Generosity: Rather unseasonally the radio blasted out familiar words from a song I’d known for years:

'They say the best things in life are free

But you can give them to the birds and bees

I need money, that's what I want

That's what I want, yeah that's what I want.'

Was the singer being ironic? Perhaps – or perhaps not.

Money matters have come strongly into focus again at the close of the year.

The Government’s decision to bring forward plans to change the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals reminds us that the use of money can be both a source of pain as well as good.

The Christian take on money has often been misrepresented: the Bible does not say money is the root of all evils but rather that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.

Money helps protect the most vulnerable in society, while valuing it above everything else can lead to a host of problems from debt to exploitation.

The message of Christmas is that God loves the world with boundless generosity.

Jesus was born to express the generosity of a God who longs for all people to know his care and compassion.

Generous love like this is utterly infectious. Once we have tasted it, we begin to change.

Selfish acts seem out of place to us, while sharing our own wealth becomes a little more natural.

This Christmas we will have opportunities to show our love for others by the gifts we give them.

And even if our giving is relatively modest, the very act of doing so echoes just a very little of the extraordinary generosity of God.

We can also show generosity to those we don’t know, through giving to charities and projects supporting those in need in our local communities or further afield.

The song, strangely, says something important: the truth is that everyone needs money to live. And there’s the prompt for generosity – that word ‘everyone’. And that means something bigger and better and more worthy by far. Generosity. We need generosity. Like God’s.

May I wish you all a very merry Christmas.

The Bishop of Bangor The Right Reverend Andrew John