This Christmas more than one in ten people in Suffolk will go to church - and in the last few years the number has been increasing.
For many people going to church at Christmas is a way of touching base. It’s a way of making contact once again with what life is really about.
There is a deep reassurance as we face the infant Jesus, reassurance that God is among us. In the end, whatever is going on in the world, or in our lives, goodness and love will prevail.
The world feels different than it did a year ago. The dramatic political events of the year in this country and in the US, the refugee crisis, the wars in Syria, Iraq and the Yemen, and terror of ISIS have all contributed to this.
Life is different for many in our county too. A recent report shows that here in Suffolk deprivation levels have been increasing. Nearly half the neighbourhoods in the county are more deprived than they were five years ago.
Celebrating the birth of Jesus, we are given renewed confidence in the power of goodness and love, and spurred on to show and share that goodness and love year round.
Many of the churches that people will be attending to celebrate the birth of Jesus are also places that provide assistance and care to those facing challenges in their lives.
People work together to make a difference in the lives of those who are hungry, not least through food banks, and in Felixstowe’s St Edmunds’ church through a pop-up shop offering carrier bags of food for just £1 to those struggling, with the money donated given away to good causes.
Rural churches run regular social events to build community and relieve isolation, or house equipment in their towers to assist with broadband connection.
In Ipswich town centre churches of all denominations provide winter shelter for the homeless, with beds, food, warmth and help finding a new home off the bitter streets.
However the world changes, these are ways we can all help bring peace on earth, and goodwill to all.”