Leading article: Happy Christmas

Take Christ out of Christmas and all you are left with is M&S, some wag quipped this week. It is not, of course, true. Even for people with no religious faith there is something about this traditional festival that transcends the consumerist frenzy.

The next few days offer us all the chance to pause and spend time on people and pursuits that our hectic everyday life crowds out. The word recreation carries a message which does not date. Yet what happens after? Even our secular culture has something to learn from the central message of the festival.

As the 20th century black theologian Howard Thurman wrote: "When the song of the angels is stilled, when the star in the sky is gone, when the kings and the princes are home, when the shepherds are back with their flocks, the work of Christmas begins: to find the lost, to heal the broken, to feed the hungry, to release the prisoner, to rebuild the nations, to bring peace among people, and to make music in the heart." We wish all our readers a Happy Christmas and trust you will all return to the fray with new purpose.