Churches’ Christmas message of hope

IN THEIR JOINT Christmas message, the heads of both Clogher dioceses said that despite the hardship of this year, God is still amongst us.
In their annual statement of seasonal hope, Catholic Bishop Larry Duffy and Church of Ireland Archdeacon Brian Harper acknowledged the challenges we have faced during this unprecedented year, but pointed to the “moments of celebration” we have also seen throughout 2020. Above all, they said “God is in the midst of us.”
Referencing St Matthew’s Gospel where it states the virgin would be with child and that child would be called Immanuel, meaning ‘God is with us’, Bishop Duffy and Archdeacon Harper said the birth of Christ “tells us of how God Almighty came among us in humility to live as we live” and be “with us in our sorrow and joy, in life and death.”
Bishop Duffy and Archdeacon Harper said 2020 would be a year we will all remember, with moment of both sorrow and joy. At times it has seemed “a lost year, a year without any plan or direction, a year without confidence or certainty.”
“It has been a year when truth has been shrouded in ‘fake news’ and conspiracy theory and when we have truly stepped into the unknown,” they said.
“It is not the first time this has happened. There have been many ‘plagues’ that have affected us through history and throughout the world but this has been the first in a world which is so interconnected and interdependent.
“At a personal level, families have been separated, the elderly and vulnerable have become isolated, and loved ones have died. Poverty, depression, anxiety have increased.”
They added, however: “Yet there have been moments of celebration that have dotted our landscape. We have seen the dedication of our health care workers. We have witnessed heroic efforts being made for charitable causes and we have testified to the beautiful deeds of kindness shown to one another.”
Bishop Duffy and Archdeacon Harper said, in the midst of the worst, of times many may have asked where God was.
“At this season of the year, we are reminded that God is in the midst of us, he has entered this broken world and he is Immanuel which means ‘God with us’,” they said. “In the child born to Mary, we see our Saviour, Jesus, and we humbly place our trust in him.
“In the quietness of this particular Christmas, may we know the presence of Immanuel in our lives and in our homes.”

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