Church leaders put family at the heart of Easter message
The importance of family is one of the key themes in an Easter message from two of Northern Ireland's church leaders.
In a joint statement, the Church of Ireland Primate, Archbishop Richard Clarke, and the Catholic Primate, Archbishop Eamon Martin, said the need for a family's care and love became greater with each passing day, and stressed that modern families were under threat from a range of pressures.
"Some of these are material, others are societal or spiritual, and sadly there are many people who, for whatever reason, can only dream and wish for the warmth and care of family," their statement read.
They also referred to the World Meeting of Families in Dublin in August, which Pope Francis will attend.
"This summer Christians of different traditions will share the joy of thousands who will gather in Dublin from around the world to celebrate the good news of family as 'Joy for the world'," the statement said. "The accounts of the Easter Church that grew from the resurrection of Jesus remind us that the hospitality and generosity of the human family is a hallmark of Christian belonging."
The Presbyterian Moderator, the Rt Reverend Noble McNeely, said Easter was a time of celebration for Christian believers.
"Easter assures me that we will triumphantly go to be with God, and will rise victoriously with Jesus when He comes again," he added. "Death is real, but grief is transformed, because for us death is not the end; there will always be more to come as we have put our hope in Christ.
"Sadly, many people consider Easter simply as a holiday, and there will be many who will not be considering Christ's death and resurrection.
"There are also many people who attend church at Easter who are neglecting what happens to them when their earthly life comes to an end.
"We need to tell them of the eternal hope that is to be had in Jesus Christ."
Peter Lynas, of the Evangelical Alliance, said people were living in uncertain times.
"There is deep concern about the impact of Brexit on relations across Ireland," he stressed.
"There is uncertainty about the future of Stormont, and politics globally is becoming more fractious.
"The Easter story reminds us that governments come and go. The Romans thought that they had killed off Jesus, unaware that His kingdom would far outlast theirs.
"Today, more people worship Jesus than ever before."