Christian faithful thronged the first Mass of 2017 on New Year’s Day, yesterday, to offer their thanksgiving for the just-ended 2016 and pray for 2017.
Several clerics echoed a message of peace, obedience and submission-as these, they said, would yield them more dividends in the New Year.
Pope Francis called on the faithful across the world to embrace peace and mercy in the New Year.
“Let us entrust the New Year to Mary, Mother of God, so that peace and mercy may grow throughout the world,” Pope Francis said through his Twitter handle.
And, according to Smaragde Mbonyintege, the Bishop of Kabgayi Diocese, the same message of peace and hope was preached across all Catholic churches in Rwanda.
“We have reiterated the Pope’s message on the day of Mercy. This is a year of peace and we urge all people to live in peace and harmony,” Mbonyintege told The New Times.
“The message we would really want to pass on to people during this festive season and throughout the year, is the message of hope and peace,” he said
Bishop Alexis Birindabagabo, the Bishop of Gahini Diocese and chairperson of the Purpose Driven Ministries’ PEACE Plan, the umbrella organisation of Christian Churches in the country, reiterated the message of peace and hope during his New Year’s Day sermon in Gahini.
“I urged the congregation to have faith, to have hope and be at peace in their endervours. I personally believe that this is the time that Rwandans should trust in God even more, because we have seen Him do great things in our life and nation,” Birindabagabo said.
He added that even as the country enters into the year of presidential election, there is a reason to believe that, that time will pass peacefully.
“Our hope, as Rwandans is based on facts. We have risen from ashes. Despite the post-election violence we have here in our neighbouring countries, we believe in the peace and wisdom that God has poured on our nation. Our institutions are well established and that should be a reason for us to believe that that time will come and pass peacefully,” Birindabagabo said.
Amos Kajuga, the executive pastor at Christian Life Assembly, Nyarutarama, said that moving into the New Year is a moment where everyone in Rwanda is meant to pray for peace and to discover their purpose to life, if they are to play a role in the national development.
“We thank God for the past year 2016. We celebrate our successes and achievements and we give all honour and glory to God. We continue to look to God for courage and wisdom to redeem our failures and mistakes,” Kajuga said.
“Now, we have all been handed something very special, a brand new year: In this new year 2017, we continue to pray for peace and that we all will discover our God given purpose as we build our nation Rwanda.”
Apostle Joshua Ndagijimana Masasu, the head of the Restoration Church, urged the congregation to be submissive to God—and to their superiors—if they are to have a transformed life in the coming year.