Archbishops urge prayers for refugees of the world
The Church of Ireland and Catholic Archbishops of Armagh have issued a joint Christmas message asking for Northern Ireland to spare a thought to the hundreds of thousands of displaced people in the world this festive season.
The Most Revd Richard Clarke and Most Revd Eamon Martin said the world at the end of 2016 seemed like a very different place to this time last year.
"People speak of a profound and pervasive sense of uncertainty and insecurity all around us," they said.
"The story of Christmas is the story of someone who does not fit easily into neat categories. Jesus Christ became, for a time, a migrant child. He and his family fled to a foreign country because their lives were at risk.
"The plight of so many hundreds of thousands of displaced people in the world today, gives us all cause for thought. If our concern with our own identity allows us to think of others as less worthy of God's love or less in his heart of love than are we, then we are both deluded and dangerous. But Christmas, with its message of joy and hope, is a celebration of the real identity we all share in the love of Jesus Christ for us."
In his Christmas message, the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, the Rev Frank Sellar, said: "While the true meaning of Christmas is often overlooked through the merging of the seasons in our post-truth world, it is my prayer that you will discover the Saviour who was born, lived, died and was raised again at the centre of this wonderful hope-filled story."
Meanwhile, Belfast Lord Mayor Brian Kingston has urged everyone to be good neighbours this Christmas.
"I would encourage everyone to extend the hand of friendship to those in our community most in need of our support," he said.
"There may be some who are isolated, vulnerable or lonely - a kind word or showing neighbourly concern will often make a big difference. We can all play our part to help ease their plight."
The Lord Mayor wished all residents of Belfast and beyond a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.