Christmas is past, the New Year has started. What will we do to make 2023 better than our fears with all the current bad news and gloom?

The birth of Jesus, which we celebrate at Christmas, is a coming together between God's Heavenly Host and us on earth for those who follow the Christian Bible. Yuletide always was a festival to mark the end of wintry gloom and the start of brighter days leading to new life in the spring, which made it an appropriate time for Christians to mark the birth of Christ.

Christmassy and churchy TV programmes have been filled with an idealised Holy Family, lots of love and companionship, community singing and general Ho Ho Ho. Non religious festivities have also been dominated by eating, drinking and merriment; a break from all the difficulties, a holiday from reality, except for some unfortunates who really are stuck without enough to heat and eat.

King Charles' Christmas message reminds us that we all need to find light to brighten the darkness. Many faiths resonate with this, including the Jewish Hanukkah, Hindu Diwali, and many others including Christmas itself. The Pope's message "urbi et orbi", to the city and the world, listed very many trouble spots that beset people all over the planet. Some people cause or allow the problems which bring suffering to others. Pope Francis' phrase is "a famine of peace". We need the King's light to diminish the darkness of this "famine of peace".

There was a family with four young children and no money. A very large box, wrapped in Christmas paper was put where a Christmas tree might be, with instructions that the four children would have to share. When opened, the huge box contained many big boxes, each with smaller boxes inside down to the tiniest. At the bottom was a book called "Things to Make with Boxes." There were forts and castles, cars and airplanes, trains and boats, sets and scenery for make-believe plays, and all sorts of cool things. The children enjoyed their own creativity, developing skills with shared caring and companionship.

Rail strikes dominate our news, reminding us of the old slogan "is your journey really necessary?". If Mick Lynch had been a bargee, maybe heavy goods would still be moved on our extensive canal system, which would be much better for the environment than thousands of trains and lorries.

The railway hero of our age is Oleksandr Kamyshin, director of Ukraine's railway system, supported by 230,000 staff. His leadership and organisation have kept the railways going despite dreadful attacks on stations and infrastructure, enabling people and supplies to get promptly where they are needed, not least military equipment and ammunition delivered through Ukraine's western neighbours.

Electric connections in Ukraine are now under threat, causing skilled people to defy Russian missiles and weather to restore power. King Charles' message for light to brighten the darkness is not just symbolic when the power fails! This is also true after the terrible storms in North America. Engineers go out in all weathers and all conditions to keep everyone safe and well, and keep electricity and fresh water flowing, even to us in Devon!

We need to bring light and caring to those around us, to share what we can with those further away and avoid selfishness in all its forms, whether Putin's invasion of Ukraine or trolley rage in the supermarket!!