Churches call on people to embrace Christmas spirit
CHURCH leaders in Cairns are expecting an influx of worshippers over the next two days and have called on people to remember those less fortunate in their Christmas prayers.
From midnight Mass to Christmas morning worship, celebrating and remembering the true meaning of Christmas is first and foremost for many residents.
But church leaders will also remind their congregations to take care of each other and embrace those in need.
St John's Anglican Church Bishop Bill Ray said he would urge people to travel with patience during the busy holiday season.
"I was horrified to learn the road toll in Far North Queensland is higher than other years," he said.
"Jesus came so we may live life in all its fullness. I'm urging people to be careful on the road because life is a gift from God."
Bishop Ray said he would also draw parallels between modern-day hardships and the Bible to deliver his Christmas message.
"Life isn't always easy and the first Christmas wasn't easy either," he said. "Mary and Joseph had to travel long distances, it wasn't smooth sailing. (They) found themselves as refugees.
"As a church, we need to be mindful and care for those who are homeless, those who are displaced and those who are refugees. My main hope for Christmas is that people enjoy life to the full and think of others."
St Monica's Cathedral Bishop James Foley said he would remind his congregation of the value of faith when times were tough.
"I've been thinking about the tragedy in the US and the slaughter of the innocent," he said.
"Our Christian faith is one that gives us faith in even the worst of things. It doesn't solve problems, but it can give us some sense of hope and understanding."
Bishop Foley said he would pray for rain this Christmas, to ease the pain on graziers in the fire-ravaged Etheridge and Croydon shires.
The St Vincent de Paul Society National Council of Australia is calling for an overhaul to refugee conditions in its Christmas message.
"We are saddened by the latest decision to redirect international aid funding, especially while Australia continues to subject asylum seekers to such cruel and punitive conditions," chief executive Dr John Falzon said.
"We had hoped that by the end of 2012 there would have been a shift in the approach to refugee policy. Each day, however, brings us more bad news."
St John's Anglican Church, cnr Lake and Minnie streets, Cairns, will hold Mass tonight at 6pm and 11pm, while the Christmas Day service is at 8am.
St Monica's Cathedral, Abbott St, will hold Mass tonight at 7pm and midnight, with Christmas Day services at 6.30am and 10am.
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