Belfast Telegraph

God's initiative can inspire us today

Alf McCreary reports on the Christmas messages of our church leaders and their hopes for the new year

In a joint message the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh Dr Richard Clarke and the Catholic Archbishop of Armagh Dr Eamon Martin urged people to speak up for voiceless thousands.

They said: “This year in many parts of our world, people have been living in the grip of fear.

“It is a sad reflection on our world that many people have been forced violently to flee to safety because of their religion, ethnicity or cultural identity.

“The plight of Christians in Iraq, Syria and the whole Middle East comes especially to mind at this  Christmas time.

“Sadly there is fear and need in our own land too, and many parents across Ireland are afraid for their children’s wellbeing because they lack the necessities for any level of security or comfort in daily life. The plight of the homeless on our streets has been much on our minds in recent weeks.

“We urge all people of goodwill to work together so that the needs of children and the most vulnerable are protected”

In a joint message the Church of Ireland Bishop of Derry and Raphoe the Rt Rev Ken Good and the Catholic Bishop of Derry Dr Donal McKeown said that the harsh realities of life for many in today’s world raise big questions about the meaning and purpose of it all.

They added: “God’s initiative in Bethlehem — and the human response of those involved — can inspire in us today an understanding of life which is purposeful and loving, and can lead us to play our part in working courageously and compassionately to deal effectively with poverty, hunger, homelessness, loneliness, and need of any kind.”

Presbyterian Moderator the Rev Dr Michael Barry has called for people to show hospitality and to welcome strangers this Christmas.

Dr Barry said: “As Presbyterians we of all people should value the new life opportunities this land offers, and set an example to others that we should welcome the stranger.

“We should ensure that they no longer live in fear by making them feel at home.”

Methodist President the Rev Peter Murray said:

“The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money or the most awards. They are simply the ones who care the most.

“This Christmas I want to take time to be thankful for people who care about me, and to thank them for their friendship. Why don’t you join me in that?”

The Catholic Bishop of Down and Connor Dr Noel Treanor said:

“The human family is confronted with massive challenges and these send out a siren call to Christians to unveil afresh the pertinence for the human family of the Christian perspective on life, on relationships to God, to creation and to the neighbour.

“Such in part is the call of our times, a time when many voices, in and out of tune, call for renewal in personal, religious and public life.”

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