[ACNS source: Church of Ireland] The following is the Christmas message from the Most Revd Robin Eames, Primate of All Ireland and senior Primate of the Anglican Communion:
“A crying newborn child is at the centre of the Christian meaning of Christmas. Born in a stable ‘because there was no room in the Inn’ to parents who went unnoticed in a crowded city, surrounded by dirt and deprivation far removed from a regal atmosphere the Prince of Peace, the son of God, came into this world as a symbol of poverty. The life that lay ahead of him was to become the foundation of the Christian faith - but at the beginning there was little to forecast what was to follow.
“Children are uppermost in our hearts and minds as Christmas approaches. Those homes and families which are blessed by the privilege and joy of children at this time of the year know this only too well. So much of the joy and mystery of it all revolves around the excitement a child alone can provide.
“Yet children also present the world with the contrast which pulls at our conscience this Christmas. Children where there is the security of a loving and secure home contrast with those millions who will see little or nothing of the joy of Christmas Day. The happiness of the many contrasts with the needs and cries of the millions who go hungry, the unwanted, the abused, the refugees and the homeless. Across the world the agony of children is a condemnation of how the nations have failed to meet poverty and hunger.
“If the Christian meaning of Christmas speaks of anything it surely is a call to us who have so much to reach out to those who have so little. Truly the real meaning of Christmas comes alive when it is a Christmas for others.
“An extra gift for a charity to distribute to needy children on our own doorstep, a contribution to one of the many appeals for the world’s needy children or a hand of support to a family in need - just some of the practical ways we can turn Christmas into a time for others. We cannot allow any feeling of indifference or powerlessness in the face of such need to prevent us doing something, no matter how little or local, to express the real meaning of Christmas this year.
“A child was born into a world of need. Nothing has changed - except perhaps our knowledge of what real need means.
“A very peaceful and blessed Christmas to you all.”