Sometimes it seems that reconciliation stands little chance in the face of war and discord. But, as the Christmas truce a century ago reminds us, peace and goodwill have lasting power in the hearts of men and women. On that chilly Christmas Eve in 1914 many of the German forces sang Silent Night, its haunting melody inching across the line. That carol is still much-loved today, a legacy of the Christmas truce, and a reminder to us all that even in the unlikeliest of places hope can still be found. A very happy Christmas to you all.
What we need to do now is go further... to imagine, and then create, a world without war. With the hideous death-toll in Gaza, the chaos in Syria and Ukraine, the turmoil in Libya, that might seem a long way from the reality of 2014. But the important first step is to say "this is possible", and then to start to plan the actions needed to bring a peaceful world into being.
Tonight, as we remember the point 100 years ago when the British Empire formally entered the First World War, the lamps will go out once again. Across the country millions of people will turn off the lights in their homes, businesses and public buildings, taking a moment to reflect on the dire events that were unfolding a century ago.