At this important time of year for the Christian faith I send my best wishes to everyone in the UK and around the world celebrating Christmas.
Among the joyous celebrations we will reflect on those very Christian values of giving, sharing and taking care of others. This Christmas I think we can be very proud as a country at how we honour these values through helping those in need at home and around the world.
On Christmas Day thousands of men and women in our armed forces will be far from home protecting people and entire communities from the threat of terrorism and disease; NHS doctors, nurses and other British volunteers will be in Ebola-affected countries, working selflessly to help stop this terrible disease from spreading further; and British aid workers will be helping citizens to rebuild countries and communities afflicted by conflict and poverty.
Here at home thousands of police and fire officers, paramedics and other emergency service personnel will be working hard to keep the public safe and well; across the country volunteers and workers from charities and other organisations will drop in on the vulnerable and elderly so they are not isolated this Christmas; and thousands of churches – whether in the smallest village or biggest city – will hold open their doors and welcome people of faith and none to give thanks and celebrate together.
So this Christmas, as we celebrate the birth of Christ with friends, families and neighbours, let us think about those in need at home and overseas, and of those extraordinary professionals and volunteers who help them.