At Christmas 1914, four months into World War One, British and German soldiers on the Western front laid down their weapons. They exchanged small gifts, sang carols, buried their dead, and some even kicked a football around.
'Panic Saturday' is behind us. But the panic does not seem to have diminished greatly. The compulsion to buy and the strain of doing so is on almost every tongue. Like many Quakers, I don't give presents. This makes Christmas both easier and more demanding.
Advent is a time of waiting and expectation, as the possibility of revelation and revolution slowly dawns – the birth of a new era in Christ, challenging the religious, social and political assumptions of the governing empire.
I’ve been re-reading ‘A Christmas Carol’, and the way it resonates with present day Britain is quite remarkable. As Christmas approaches, Scrooge sits in his counting house, as he does every day, obsessed with his accounts and balancing the books, untouched and unmoved by the poverty all around him.
Our associate Dr Harry Hagopian, an expert commentator and ecumenical consultant on the Middle East and North Africa, has been particularly busy during Advent, recording several broadcasts before a stay in a Monastery.
From time-to-time, unsurprisingly, people ask us about the name 'Ekklesia'. We have an FAQ on that, which you can find here (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/about/faqs/10), but it is something that we should probably talk about more.