Christians around the world are actively preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
Although the celebrations take many forms in different countries, we all see Christmas as a turning point for the human race, when the Saviour of the world was born.
There seem to be many levels of history in what we think of as a traditional Christmas.
We have pre-Christian elements like evergreen trees and ceremonies of light.
We have Medieval elements like mince pies and Victorian elements such as carol singing.
Many people, even those with little religion or none, are able to enter into the spirit of the season.
We can all rise to show hospitality and generosity as well as strengthening and renewing bonds of family life.
Last week (6 December) we celebrated the feast of St Nicholas who is particularly connected with Christmas for children expecting presents. But he also embodied that Christmas spirit we have just mentioned.
St Nicholas was born in modern day Turkey, was brought up as a Christian and became a bishop.
He was put in prison when Christians in the empire were being persecuted.
He was courageous in standing up for his Christian Faith especially when others wanted to water it down.
He is reputed to have worked miracles to save those who were innocent or powerless. He is a patron saint of children as well as sailors.
His outstanding quality was making secret acts of charity. When he heard of a poor family heading for destitution and worse, he is said to have thrown a bag of money through the window and fled.
The third time he did this he was caught and gained a reputation for charity, generosity and love for his people.
The meaning of the birth of Christ may be in danger of being swamped by all the materialist concerns of Christmas.
The real St Nicholas may be in danger of being overwhelmed by the rotund, jovial Hollywood Santa.
But we all know a genuine act of kindness when we see it and we are all capable of embracing a generous spirit at Christmas and throughout the year.
To all your readers from everyone at St Mary and St Joseph’s Church Pocklington, we wish you a happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.