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This Christmas we have decorated our homes, sent our cards and Santa will make his visits like every other year

The year we have lived through has not been.

An invisible threat that we barely knew about last Christmas is ravaging the world.

We are living through a health crisis, a social crisis and an economic crisis.

Yet, as we gather together for one day this Christmas we can do so with some hope.

The United Kingdom has led the way in approving and providing the first vaccine.

Right now Northern Ireland has the highest vaccination rate in the U.K. and the world.

More vaccines will follow, reinforcements in our fight against COVID.

We will still face moments of despair and worry but now we have our long path back to normality.

The Christmas story is of a long and difficult journey that ended in the joy of the birth of Jesus.

It was a journey inspired by the love and devotion to their God.

of Mary and Joseph for one another;

to the son God had given them;

In his life Jesus exemplified love and devotion that lead ultimately to his crucifixion and his resurrection.

I believe it is love and devotion that has helped us all come together and face the common enemy of COVID.

It showed what we can achieve when we make common cause.

A lesson we should not forget in the new year, new decade and new century ahead of us.