The Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, offers this message of hope for the season of Christmas:

On that first Christmas, over two thousand years ago the air was full of the voices of a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’ How we need to hear those words as we look around all the conflicts and so much innocent suffering in so many nations, not least the land of Jesus’s birth.

The birth of Christ assures us that goodness is the fundamental truth, that love is stronger than hate, life goes beyond death, hope is deeper than fear. Indeed through the eyes of Faith we know that the light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it.

When we hear the words of the angels and speak the truth we have receive, we help bring them into being in our daily world. For there is much good in this world. There is so much to be thankful for and speaking of these things should always be the first words on our lips.

We must never cease striving for justice having the courage to speak out against injustice whenever and wherever we see it. We should be compassionate in all our dealings, mindful of the need to reach out to those experiencing hardship and adversity. Our presence and engagement is and will be a blessing to others.

The Angels announce their message of joy, and this makes the world more joyful. And what do the Shepherds do? They go with haste and make known what they have been told. Others are then told what they heard.

Our Christmas greetings have this depth about them too: that they are true. When we see Christ in our neighbour, when we speak well of each other and of what we have in common, when we point with our words to the best in one another, when we choose the language of Faith, Hope and Love: then we are speaking the truth. And though we know this at all seasons, we know it in all its fullness and richness what the Angels sing to the Glory of God in Heaven and on Earth, Peace and Goodwill. Let this become our reality and let our words and actions this Christmas – and indeed through the coming year – be those of Peace and Goodwill.