The Bishop of St Albans is urging people to give rather than shop this year in his Christmas message to the city’s residents.
Reverend Alan Smith said: “The true message of Christmas is about giving not shopping. Yet it appears that many of us can no longer pause and find the time to enjoy the presents that we have been given. It seems we can’t resist the urge to shop more, to spend more, and to consume more.
“Retail association IMRG estimates that more than £350 million will be spent online on Christmas Day this year. We are also told that around 2400 Spar shops will be open on Christmas day itself.
“With Christmas this year being celebrated against the backdrop of a rapid growth in food banks across the UK, I’ve met families who are struggling to afford a decent lunch, let alone spend Christmas afternoon in online shopping. For those that cannot find a job or those who are too ill to work, there may be little cheer this Christmas.
“So for the sake of our own physical and spiritual health, will you join me in doing something different this Christmas?
“Why not practice giving, rather than consuming? Not only will it make an incalculable difference to the lives of people who are suffering, but it will also be health-giving for us and our families. And with the time you save you might even find yourself pausing to think about the gift given to us all: Jesus, God among us.”