But for many people, interested as they are in such events, the reflection at the end of the year is not going to be about these things. We will all take the chance to pause a bit and think over what really matters in our lives: the health of the family and friends, the achievements of young people we know, perhaps some holiday memories of beaches and sunshine, those loved ones who will not be with us this time, and almost always a thought about what lies ahead of us, and the opportunities which 2017 will bring.

To those of us with a Christian faith, the birth of Jesus Christ in humble surroundings, to a family which had to flee persecution from an occupied land in the Middle East has an especial poignancy as we watch the horrors unfold of yet another conflict in that area of the world. But His eternal message of God’s grace and redemption, which has sustained millions of people in this country over the centuries, is a personal one which helps us face our challenges, mostly far removed from the world of news and current affairs.

To those of all faiths and none, I hope the pause in the world over the Christmas break brings you time for the pleasure of the company of others and prepares you for all we will achieve together next year.