THE Right Reverend Andrew John, Bishop of Bangor, delivers his 2013 Christmas message...
THE race has begun for the top slot of best selling product in the Christmas period. And there are two hot contenders Sony's PS4 and Microsoft's Xbox One.
Both are selling like hot cakes and many will brave the queues and crowds and dig deeply into already stretched pockets.
The pressure to deliver will be immense.
Recent surveys from YouGov suggest 31 per cent of people will experience some form of debt over this period.
Many more will rely on overdraft facilities to fund their festivities and with a backdrop of structural debt hitting 88.7 per cent of government spending, its easy to see that something has gone, well, very wrong.
Shortly before winning the title of City of Culture in 2017 it was revealed that Hull is the most indebted place in the UK with 43.1 per cent of the population in debt.
It is one of lifes strange traits that we sometimes romanticize poverty as though it were a kind of virtue.
A line from an old carol (wrongly understood) might reinforce this idea:
"Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour all for loves sake becamest poor."
But poverty cripples those who are trapped in it and leads to short term release often from unscrupulous loan sharks.
The Christian take on this is that Christmas offers a kind of hope which can break this dreadful cycle of misery.
There is no quick fix solution but a conviction God entered this world to transform it.
His birth was without fanfare and pomp but the stepping into the dust and grime was real where life is lived out for many people today.
If the story of the shepherds tells us anything it's that hope and joy begins when we see that God loved us enough to get into the dirt with us.
My hope for us in Wales this Christmas is that we will find something more of this God and his power to transform.
Debt is real enough but so is Gods love and there is an alternative to the abyss of despair.
The crib may not seem a likely place to look but the child who lay there was born to save and help us.
May you all have a truly joyful and blessed Christmas.