David Cameron thanks Christians for 'faith in action'
David Cameron has used his Christmas message to express thanks for the contribution of Christians to society and share his hope for peace.
The Prime Minister said his desire was for everyone to experience a peaceful Christmas and happy New Year as they take time to consider what they value most - "family, friends and fellowship".
2013, he said, had been a year when Britain had pulled together to overcome challenges, and special note was made of the contribution of Christians.
"Together we have made real progress on strengthening our economy and creating more decent jobs so that people can provide for their families.
"This progress is down to the efforts of millions who go out and work hard every day, putting in the hours, running businesses and keeping our economy going.
"And there are those millions who keep on strengthening our society too – being good neighbours, running clubs and voluntary associations, playing their part in countless small ways to help build what I call the 'big society'.
"Many of these people are Christians who live out to the letter that verse in Acts, that 'it is more blessed to give than to receive'. These people put their faith into action and we can all be grateful for what they do."
Cameron went on to say that 2013 had been a "significant year for the Christian faith", with the arrival of Justin Welby as the new Archbishop of Canterbury and Pope Francis to lead the Roman Catholic Church.
"Both have come in with exciting plans to rejuvenate their respective churches, which should inspire Christians around the world," he said.
He continued: "For me, this season is also a time to think about the meaning of Christmas – the birth of Jesus Christ and the hope that gives to millions. In Handel's Messiah, these words from the Prophet Isaiah are brilliantly put to music: 'His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.'
"With peace in mind, I would like to say thank you to our brave service women and men who are helping bring peace here and around the world; to their families who cannot be with them; and to all the dedicated men and women in the emergency and caring services who are working hard to support those in need this Christmas.
"Have a peaceful Christmas – and a very happy New Year."