Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu has identified facing down poverty as a key priority for the church in the coming year.
The issue of hardship was a major theme of an article for his local paper, published on Christmas Eve.
Other messages from the second most senior cleric in the Church of England have highlighted the role of the church in bringing change, youth unemployment, dignity for young people and reconciliation as other big concerns for people of goodwill.
"There is not a single week that has passed without mentions of foodbanks, debt, poor housing, unemployment, loneliness, health worries or appeals for volunteers. These are tough times and it could get tougher," the archbishop declared in a Christmas article for the York Press newspaper.
He continued: "There are many people living below the poverty line in the UK. But we have found that for the first time, there are more of those in poverty in work (6.7 million) than there are retired or without work.
"The report published earlier this month by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) revealed that almost 13 million people are living in poverty in the UK.
"As chair of the Living Wage Commission, I am all too aware of the scale and depth of hardship across the country," said Dr Sentamu.
"Life’s persistent and urgent question for all of us should be: “What are we doing for others so that together our future can be different? How can I be the change I want to see?” This takes courage. It takes a yearning to make a difference. And it requires real love to bring lasting transformation," the archbishop averred.
Drawing on a seasonal message, Dr Sentamu concluded: "Be encouraged to know that nothing is beyond God’s power to make a difference, which means that there is always hope for life in the present and for the future ahead of us. And what’s better is that God never ever tires of forgiving us. It is by God’s grace that we know that there’s always room for the future to be different …. May the light of Christ lead us this Christmas and on into 2014."
* Archbishop of York: http://www.archbishopofyork.org
* Christmas on Ekklesia: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/