SENIOR churchpeople have relayed their Christmas messages to the people of Hampshire.

The Dean of Winchester, the Very Rev Catherine Ogle, has given her first message since her appointment earlier this year.

She said: “In the depths of winter, and in the darkest night, the bright lights of Christmas sparkle with hope for new life and new hope.

“It’s a great privilege to celebrate my first Christmas in Winchester, as Dean, and to share in offering the joyful hospitality of the Cathedral and the Cathedral Close to so many people from across the region, and beyond.

“At Christmas we remember a simple but precious truth, that the greatest gift we can give or receive is love. The poet Christina Rossetti wrote‘What can I give him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb. If I were a wise man, I would do my part. Yet what I can I give him, give my heart’.

“The Christ child asks for room in our hearts and lives so that we can be filled with love, joy and hope.”

The message from the Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Rev Timothy Dakin, said: “At a particular time, in a particular place, Jesus was born – sent by God to save the world he had created and loved.

“For God, who created the heavens and the earth, to confine himself to such a humble beginning is one of the things that continues to amaze those who hear the story.

“No one, except a tiny few – shepherds and seers – paid any attention to Jesus’ birth. Yet this year, around the world, people of every age and from every ethnicity and nation, will celebrate this event because Jesus has changed their lives.

“That is why you will hear Christians repeat the words ‘To us a child is born; to us a Saviour is given’, as if those historical events happened every year at Christmas. The story of Jesus’ birth is our story – what happened then and there is the greatest thing that God has done here and now.”