Faith Matters

Church leaders' new year message: Hope in Christ in uncertain times

Richard Clarke, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh and Eamon Martin, Catholic Archbishop of Armagh

AS with all people, none of us are immune from standing at the gate of the new year and reflecting on what the last 12 months have brought - and wondering what 2017 might bring.

The world is an uncertain place. As we enter this new year we are mindful of people who continue to suffer as a result of conflict, especially in the Middle East, and the humanitarian crisis that continues to unfold in Syria.

As we pray for these situations, we also remember and lift in prayer those in our own communities who are affected by homelessness and those struggling to make ends meet. As the Psalmist reminds us, "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear..." (Psalm 46:1). It is our prayer that people will look to Him for that comfort and help and see Him move in those who offer much needed practical support.

As Church leaders, last year we remembered together the events of 1916, events that shaped relationships and the future of these islands. A century on, new events of a different kind have the potential to alter political and economic relationships here, as the UK prepares to leave the European Union. It is our united prayer that our political leaders in Belfast, Dublin and London will have wisdom, grace and patience during this process that will have implications for the whole of Ireland.

As we begin our journey through this coming year, we are reminded of the greatest commandment that our Lord Jesus Christ gave us: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength..." He continued, by giving us a second, "Love your neighbour as yourself" (Mark 12:30-31).

Let us commit to living out His words in these uncertain days as we also remember that our eternal hope is in Christ, at this time and always, we fix our eyes upon Him.

:: Taken from the joint new year's message from the leaders of Ireland's four main Christian denominations and the president of the Irish Council of Churches: Archbishop Richard Clarke, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh; Archbishop Eamon Martin, Catholic Archbishop of Armagh; Rt Rev John McDowell, President, Irish Council of Churches; Rev Bill Mullally, President of the Methodist Church in Ireland and Rt Rev Dr Frank Sellar, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.

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Faith Matters