The Archbishops of Armagh, Archbishop Eamon Martin, and Archbishop Richard Clarke of the Church of Ireland, have issued their annual joint Christmas message: ‘A time for re-kindling’. As Archbishop Clarke retires early in 2020 this is their last joint message.
In their message the Archbishops highlighted the unifying power of Christmas, but also emphasised how Christmas can “be a stressful and difficult time for people who feel estranged from friends and loved ones to whom they were once close, and for those who feel they have no-one they can truly call a friend.”
They continued, “We are all capable of bringing light and love into another person’s life – perhaps someone for whom hope itself is fading, someone who desperately needs the rekindling of trust that only care and friendship can bring.
“Jesus Christ came into the world to bring us not only the light of his love but also the warmth of his friendship. Indeed, he assured his disciples that they were more than just “followers”; they were his “friends” (John 15.15).”
In conclusion, the Archbishops said, “Our country, north and south, truly needs the rekindling of wholesome relationships – socially and politically, nationally and internationally – and our prayer this Christmas is that men and women of integrity will find the generosity and courage they need to lead and take the initiative in making these crucial relationships work.
“As our sharing in ministry here in Armagh will soon be coming to a close, we take this opportunity publicly to thank God for the warm friendship we have enjoyed together – and will continue to enjoy, albeit in a different mode – and we pray as one that 2020 may be a year of rekindling true friendship for all the people of Ireland.”