Peace be with you in season of goodwill

Worshippers across Norfolk are lighting candles, perfecting carols and preparing festive feasts ahead of some of the busiest days in the Christian calendar.

Worshippers across Norfolk are lighting candles, perfecting carols and preparing festive feasts ahead of some of the busiest days in the Christian calendar.

The Christmas period sees churches throw open their doors to throngs of people who pack in to join in festive prayer and song in celebration of Jesus' birth.

It also marks a time when thoughts turn to helping the less fortunate, the homeless, distressed and lonely, for whom the festive season would otherwise be miserable.

This spirit of giving and reaching out is symbolised by the statue of Jesus with arms outstretched outside the Roman Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart in Dereham.

Tomorrow the church will hold a Christmas Eve children's mass at 6pm, Christmas vigil at 11.30pm followed by a midnight mass and a Christmas Day mass at 10am.

Every Christmas Day in Norwich volunteers at St Andrew's Hall provide a hot meal and Christmas entertainment for over 300 people without a place to go.

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This year's Norwich Open Christmas will run from 11am-5pm and is the 16th-year the event has been running.

Norwich's two cathedrals will be holding a series of prayers, masses and evensongs from tomorrow.

At Norwich Cathedral services start at 8am with a Holy Communion and continue throughout the day with a crib service at noon, Christmas procession with carols at 3.30pm and midnight eucharist of Christmas beginning at 11.15pm.

On Christmas Day the family eucharist of Christmas Day will be held at 10.30am with a festal evensong and procession at 3.30pm.

In the Roman Catholic cathedral of St John the Baptist a series of masses will be held throughout the day starting at 9am, with the Christmas anticipatory at 6pm and carols at 11.30pm ahead of the midnight mass.

On Christmas Day the cathedral will hold a further two masses, at 9am and at 11am.

In Walsingham the Anglican shrine will hold a solemn mass at noon on Christmas Eve followed by a vigil and blessing of the crib and solemn mass at 8.30pm.

At the Roman Catholic shrine there will be blessing of the crib at 4.30pm followed by a mass at 8.30pm on Christmas Eve and a mass of dawn at 8pm on Christmas Day.

*See today's Church Chat page for more information on Christmas events and how Christians are reaching out to help the needy.

* Copies of EDP staff photographs can be obtained from photosales on 01603 772175 or via the website www.edp24/photosales