SEASON OF GOODWILL: Christmas is a time for celebration and hope even in these dark times, says Bishop of London

It can be easy to become overwhelmed by the material aspects of Christmas. But at its core it is a time for gratitude, celebration and hope. Gratitude for what we have and the people around us, and gratitude that Jesus, born in the humblest of surroundings, was sent as the Son of God to share our lives, our struggles and our joy. It is also a time to think about those less fortunate than us, including those who, through no fault of their own, are born into or subsumed by war, natural disaster or destitution. The horrifying scenes in Israel and Gaza have served as a stark reminder that many will be spending Christmas without a home. Alongside this, we should remember the plight of those at home, including those who come to these shores seeking reprieve from persecution and violence. There are now 50 per cent more homeless in the capital than ten years ago. I know how places like Ealing Soup Kitchen, in St John’s Church, and St Barnabas Food Bank in North Finchley, are providing a lifeline. There’s an equally worrying picture across the country and tomorrow, on Christmas Day, churches everywhere will be doing what they can to provide the same support. 2023 has been a year of much uncertainty. In a troubled world, the message of the good news of God’s love, embodied in Jesus Christ, remains unchanged and steadfast. It is needed more than ever before. Wherever you are spending this Christmas, whether you’re near home or far away, there is a church ready to welcome you.