The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, has urged people to take steps now to protect each other as we prepare to celebrate Christmas – the second during the global Covid-19 pandemic – amid a rise in cases.
Bishop Sarah, who leads the Church of England’s Covid Recovery Group, was speaking as updated guidance for churches was published.
She said: "As we look forward to celebrating again the coming of Jesus into our world, we can do so with hope.
"Few of us imagined when we first heard of the coronavirus at the beginning of last year that we would now be approaching our second Christmas of a global pandemic.
"The recent emergence of the new Omicron variant and the evidence we’ve seen already of its rapid spread is a cause of real concern.
"And while we are hugely thankful for the rapid development and mass rollout of the vaccines - and the current booster programme - there are important steps we should take now to protect ourselves and each another.
"As Christians we have a duty to care for one another, especially those who are most vulnerable, and the latest measures announced by the Government should offer some extra protection and reassurance for people.
"Caring for one another, sharing, hope, faith and most of all the knowledge that God is with us are at the heart of Christmas.
"This Christmas we will be coming together – whether in person or online – to worship God and celebrate his coming into the world as a human being like us.
"Amid all that we have been through together in the last two years that hope is as strong as ever."