Someone in New Zealand has offered a prize for the best Christmas Carol written to be sung in summer. It may be years since Manchester last had a true White Christmas, but the link with winter is at the heart of why our ancestors decided to mark the birth of Jesus at this time of year.
By 25 December each day is just a tiny bit longer than the one before. There will be many frosty mornings and icy winds to come before spring, but we celebrate God’s promise that light will defeat the darkness and warmth will conquer cold.
I see many signs of warmth breaking through the cold as I go about Greater Manchester and beyond. It’s there when a passerby stops and exchanges a few words with somebody begging in the city centre. It’s there in the kindness that inspires so many to support charities making up Christmas food parcels for our poorest households. It’s there in the voices of Carol singers flocking to the Cathedral, night after night. It’s there too on the faces of Mancunians of other faiths, many of whom are also enjoying festivals this month.
I thought about trying to write a summer Carol, but it just didn’t feel right. Instead, my wish and prayer is that all of us will enjoy the warmth of the love and care of others this Christmas. And that we’ll add a bit of warmth to the lives of those who need it most – however cold and dark the season may be.