THE HEAD of the Anglican church in Essex and East London has penned a Christmas message for Guardian readers.

The Right Reverend Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford, writes: "You know it’s drawing near when the nights grow darker, your neighbours’ garden lights illuminate the whole road and you find yourself humming, 'let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…'!

"But as incredible as it is Christmas is first and foremost about a baby. 

"Remarkably, God is so passionately interested in a relationship with us that He becomes like us and lived among us. 

"Christmas celebrates the reckless extravagance of God, who throws everything in to express His love for us. And this can be experienced today in Epping, Chigwell, Ongar and Loughton. 

"God wants to share our life and lead us into a different way of living. So Christmas means that there is always hope. Not just a brittle optimism but a real hope for the world.

"And we need to share this hope with those around us - especially our young people. 

"My prayer is that for all of us, this great news of God’s reckless love, generosity and kindness will be at the heart of our Christmas this year.

"Christmas starts with Christ. And Christ is here in Epping Forest."