I RECENTLY visited a Church of England school in a deprived part of Dudley borough. Children born there today have a life expectancy 10 years shorter than those born just a few miles further south.

That is a shocking! But it motivates the staff to do all they can to turn that around. To hope for and expect better outcomes for those children. To bring light in the midst of darkness. To enable those children themselves to be beacons of light in their communities.

In a world full of darkness and despair, the light of Christ brings hope. In the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, church schools and churches bring help and friendship, with the God of love at the heart of all that they do.

God came to live amongst us at Christmas. God was born amongst us in Jesus.

There was a cost to that living - cruel men took Jesus and nailed him to the cross. His birth wasn’t the end, as Easter will show us soon enough. God is as he is in Jesus and so I know God is with all who are suffering today, wherever they may be.

But for now, let us be confident. God’s love is strong, stronger even than this dark world’s hate.

The school children sang a joyful song, ‘My Lighthouse’, and told me about Jesus being a light to lighten their path.

God is with Us in Jesus.

In the darkest of nights, his light will shine!

Bishop Martin