Church leaders look for hope after uncertainty of 2016

Posted By: December 25, 2016

Church leaders in Northern Ireland are offering prayers for hope arising out of the uncertainty of 2016 this Christmas.

In a joint message, Archbishops of the Church of Ireland and Catholic Church in Armagh noted that “the world at the end of 2016 seems a very different place than it did at this time last year”.

The Most Reverend Richard Clarke and the Most Reverend Eamon Martin said: “People speak of a profound and pervasive sense of uncertainty and insecurity all around us.”

They went on to reflect on identity and the Christmas story.

“Jesus Christ became, for a time, a migrant child. He and his family fled to a foreign country because their lives were at risk,” they said.

“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.”

They added: “Let us bring that joy and hope into our Christmas festivities and into the coming year.”

The plight of so many hundreds of thousands of displaced people in the world today gives us all cause for thought.

– Most Reverend Richard Clarke and the Most Reverend Eamon Martin

Meanwhile, the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland also spoke of the turmoil of 2016 and the rise, amid the presidential campaign in the US, of a so-called “post-truth” society.

However, the Right Reverend Dr Frank Sellar offered his hopes that the true meaning of Christmas would not be lost.

“At this special time, I wish you a very happy Christmas,” he said.

“And in the words of the Apostle Paul: ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.’”

In his Christmas message, Catholic Bishop of Derry Donal McKeown also pointed to “the many stressful and shocking situations around every corner and around the world”.

But he also noted the ability of a great many people to “laugh in the face of bleak mid-winter, trusting that spring always lurks beneath the surface”.

Bishop McKeown added: “I hope that we can work together to pour what Pope Francis called ‘the balm of mercy’ on so many hurting lives and that church-goers will be active as ‘missionaries of mercy’.”

I pray that we can all enjoy some joy of new life in our hearts this Christmas season.

– Bishop of Derry Donal McKeown
Last updated Sun 25 Dec 2016