If there is one thing people want at Christmas, it’s the security of having their family around them and a home that is safe. But not everyone has that. Millions of families are spending this winter in refugee camps or makeshift shelters across Syria and the Middle East, driven from their homes by Daesh and Assad. Christians from Africa to Asia will go to church on Christmas morning full of joy, but many in fear of persecution. Throughout the United Kingdom, some will spend the festive period ill, homeless or alone.
We must pay tribute to the thousands of doctors, nurses, carers and volunteers who give up their Christmas to help the vulnerable – and to those who are spending this season even further from home. Right now, our brave armed forces are doing their duty, around the world: in the skies of Iraq and Syria, targeting the terrorists that threaten those countries and our security at home; on the seas of the Mediterranean, saving those who attempt the perilous crossing to Europe; and on the ground, helping to bring stability to countries from Afghanistan to South Sudan.
It is because they face danger that we have peace. And that is what we mark today as we celebrate the birth of God’s only son, Jesus Christ – the Prince of Peace. As a Christian country, we must remember what his birth represents: peace, mercy, goodwill and, above all, hope. I believe that we should also reflect on the fact that it is because of these important religious roots and Christian values that Britain has been such a successful home to people of all faiths and none.
So, as we come together with our loved ones, in safety and security, let’s think of those who cannot do the same. Let’s give thanks to those who are helping the vulnerable at home and protecting our freedoms abroad. And let me wish everyone in Britain and around the world a very happy and peaceful Christmas.