A BISHOP has spoken of God’s love for workers, highlighting those whose line of duty takes in Christmas.

Delivering his sixth Christmas message as Bishop of Durham, the Right Reverend Paul Butler said it is not only members of the clergy who find their working lives busy over the festive season.

He explained his seasonal address stems from the oft asked question: “This must be your busiest time of year. You must be working very hard right now?”

Bishop Butler said: “These are just two of the regular lines used to me, and indeed other bishops and clergy throughout December.

“Well, yes, clergy do work hard during the Christmas season, but they work hard all year long.

“For me as a bishop, it is much more business as usual than most people might think, and we work hard all year long, too.

“This is also true of very many people, who work extremely hard in the lead up to Christmas, and indeed over the whole festive period!

“I think of shop-workers, health and social care workers, those who keep our power running, our streets safe.

“Work still matters through Christmas.

“Farmers still have to get up early to milk their cows, planes still fly even if trains and buses do not always run.

“Joseph was a worker. He helped build houses, made furniture and tools.

“Travelling to Bethlehem with a pregnant Mary meant not only an arduous journey but loss of income, in an age of no social security.

“The one chosen to be the human father of God’s chosen son was an ordinary working man facing significant financial challenges.

“He would raise his son in the same family trade just as he would have been.

“The shepherds were working out in the fields caring for their sheep.

“Night-time work, dirty work and an occupation not highly regarded socially.

“They were working as usual when they were frightened out of their wits by an angel, and then a host of them.

“The good news of the birth of the Saviour, the rescuer, the deliverer was announced to good working people in the midst of their working night.

“Once they had found the new-born baby, they went telling all the ordinary folk of Bethlehem, residents and visitors, the good news that their deliverer had been born and could be found just down the road, lying in a (clean) cattle trough.

“One of the great points about the whole Christmas story is it’s for everyone.

“It is for working people. Yes, it is a fabulous story for children to hear and re-enact, but it is certainly not ‘just for the children’. It is for us all.

“So, the Christmas story in some ways affirms work and working.

“Here I do not simply think of work as that for which people are paid.

“Many people work extremely hard without being paid for their work.

“Mary, Jesus’ mother, almost certainly falls into this category as have and do so many mothers, raising children, running households, caring for families, often now also working in a paid role on top.

“This Christmas let us celebrate that God loves workers, and indeed work.

“Let’s celebrate that God entered the world as a baby cared for by workers, and to become a worker himself.

“A very Happy Christmas to you all.”

The Bishop deliver his message at Durham Cathedral on Christmas Day, at 11.15am.