Church leaders in Northern Ireland have spoken about emerging from the darkness of Covid-19 into a hope-filled New Year in pre-Christmas messages.
The traditional festive greetings also touch on the plight of those bereaved through the virus and remember those who will not be home for the holidays. Others have referred to the significance of humility and service. Presbyterian Moderator Dr David Bruce has reflected about what home is – a place of acceptance, love and hospitality – and on his recent visit to a charity shop run by the Church in north Belfast, where he met two volunteers from Iran who won’t be home for Christmas. Dr Bruce also highlighted that sometimes home is a place where people cannot be as he shares the experience of Mary and Joseph.
He said: “That first Christmas Mary and Joseph were not at home. They were told there was no room in the inn, until one innkeeper offered them temporary shelter with his animals. Out in the fields the shepherds watching their sheep weren’t at home – possibly they were homeless. And neither were the wise men, who had left their home to follow a star, looking for a promised king.” Dr Bruce added: “As we prepare to welcome family and friends to our homes – ‘bubbling’ safely within the necessary restrictions – let us be open-handed so that the blessings we have received can be generously shared. “As we also remember those who can’t be with us this year, let us remember and celebrate, even in these dark, yet hope-filled days, the birth of the one who is the light of the world.” In a joint statement, the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh, John McDowell and his Catholic counterpart, Archbishop Eamon Martin, pose a question as they looked back on the past year.
They said: “Could one of the positive consequences of this Christmas be that we have had to relearn how to approach it with humility and also how to celebrate it as servants of one another, rather than as lords of all we survey?
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