Mens fjorårets julehilsen fra dronning Elizabeth II for en stor del var viet de sosiale fordelene ved idrett, la den britiske monarken, som snart har sittet 60 år på tronen, i år større vekt på den kristne dimensjonen ved julen — i særdeleshet hvordan minnet om frelserens inntreden i historien kan gi håp i vanskelige tider.

Den teologisk sikre avslutningen på talen bringer tankene hen på statsminister David Camerons Oxford-tale for ti dager siden, selv om dronningen er mer lavmælt og kortfattet.

…as we all know, the world is going through difficult times. All this will affect our celebration of this great Christian festival.

Finding hope in adversity is one of the themes of Christmas. Jesus was born into a world full of fear. The angels came to frightened shepherds with hope in their voices: ‘Fear not’, they urged, ‘we bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Saviour who is Christ the Lord.’

Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves – from our recklessness or our greed. God sent into the world a unique person – neither a philosopher nor a general (important though they are) – but a Saviour, with the power to forgive.

Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith. It can heal broken families, it can restore friendships and it can reconcile divided communities. It is in forgiveness that we feel the power of God’s love.

In the last verse of this beautiful carol, O Little Town of Bethlehem, there’s a prayer:

O Holy Child of Bethlehem
Descend to us we pray
Cast out our sin
And enter in
Be born in us today

It is my prayer that on this Christmas day we might all find room in our lives for the message of the angels and for the love of God through Christ our Lord.