Madam, We are sorry that Mrs.Gornall of Sunningdale didn't find the Christmas

Crib in Hereford Cathedral inspiring.

No, it wasn't traditional and yes, it did give a very different view of the stable scene but, of the 200 or so who signed a comment book in the Cathedral over the Christmas period, a very encouraging 96 percent expressed support for the Crib and the challenge that it gave us all to look closely and deeply at the Christmas mystery.

We can find no better words than these, written by a member of the congregation of St Francis Xavier's church and re-produced here by permission: "For over 2000 years we've watched Christ being born in squeaky-clean circumstances, everything just so - a picture that sometimes disturbed me, having worked hard for many years to help the world's outcasts who don't know these sanitised images. I recalled Wordsworth's reminder: 'getting and spending we lay waste our powers'.

"Where would Christ find most people in Britain today? In TV and computer-dominated homes? In closing friendly corner shops? In the emptying churches?

"We live in a secular age and acquiring and spending money is in the minds of so many people, let's face it. Of course, Christ would have to find a niche in a trolley to get close to the people he came to save!

"Thank you, the hard working staff and the enthusiastic youngsters for making me stop, think and enter the real world.

"I left the Cathedral on a high with the words 'Gloria in Excelsis Deo' ringing in my head."

No, not everybody will have felt as this correspondent, but if the majority of those who came to the Cathedral this Christmas were helped to think a little more deeply about the true meaning of it all - then we are pleased and grateful.

MICHAEL TAVINOR, Dean of Hereford,

JOHN OLIVER, Bishop of Hereford.