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Prime Minister praises Christians in Christmas message

David Cameron has used his Christmas message to pay tribute to Christians who 'put their faith into action' in helping build the Big Society.
The Prime Minister says we can all be grateful for believers who follow the verse from the book of Acts which reads 'it is more blessed to give than to receive'.

The Big Society was launched in the Conservative Party Manifesto ahead of the 2010 election.

It was hoped it would empower local groups and individuals and encourage people to take an active role in their communities.

Critics have labelled it an attempt to cover widespread cuts which have been brought in to sort the economy.

Speaking ahead of Christmas Day, David Cameron said: "Looking back, 2013 has been a year when our country pulled together to overcome the challenges we face.

"Together we have made real progress on strengthening our economy and creating more decent jobs so that people can provide for their families.

"This progress is down to the efforts of millions who go out and work hard every day, putting in the hours, running businesses and keeping our economy going.

"And there are those millions who keep on strengthening our society too - being good neighbours, running clubs and voluntary associations, playing their part in countless small ways to help build what I call the 'big society'.

"Many of these people are Christians who live out to the letter that verse in Acts, that "it is more blessed to give than to receive".

"These people put their faith into action and we can all be grateful for what they do."

Last year the group Street Angels - Christian Nightlife Initiative received a Big Society Award to recognise the work they do for the local community in Halifax.

Founder Paul Blakey MBE tells Premier's Marcus Jones he's delighted to see more appreciation from David Cameron.

The Prime Minister is also encouraging people to think about the why we celebrate at this time of year.

He said:

"For me, this season is also a time to think about the meaning of Christmas - the birth of Jesus Christ and the hope that gives to millions.

"In Handel's Messiah, these words from the Prophet Isaiah are brilliantly put to music: "His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace."

His comments come as the Church of England launches its online Christmas campaign.

Congregations and clergy across the 12,000 parishes are being encouraged to get out their mobile devices today and tomorrow to finish the sentence: 'Christmas means...' to show the millions of people using Twitter about the joy and meaning for the Christmas period.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Most Revd Justin Welby posted a short message on Instagram to kick off the campaign.

He said:

"Christmas means that through Jesus, God shows us unconditionally that he loves us.

"I pray that he gives you a very blessed Christmas."

You can follow the campaign by searching for #christmasmeans on Twitter.

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