Huye — Thousands of Christians yesterday converged at various places of worship in Huye town to celebrate Christmas, which marks the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem.
Most churches in Huye were packed to capacity, with Christians singing and praying to mark the day.
At Huye Pentecostal Church, in the city centre, Christians were urged to find time and space for God in their lives and to live an exemplary life for others to learn from them.
At Butare Catholic Cathedral, sounds of drums were heard in the morning as Christians trekked from various corners of the district to celebrate the feast.
While celebrating the Christmas mass, Bishop Philippe Rukamba of Butare catholic Diocese urged Christians to live in harmony.
He challenged them to "live in peace with relatives, friends and neighbours".
"Christmas is a day of peace between all of us because we are all relatives in the name of Jesus", Bishop Rukamba told the Christians who filled the Butare cathedral.
"We should strive to be peacemakers in our areas", he urged, before pleading: "Let's strive to live peacefully with our neighbours, friends and relatives".
He added: "We must endeavour to be part of those who champion a better world rather than those causing harm to human beings."
Rukamba urged families to make every effort to safeguard their matrimonial unions, for the benefits of the entire community.
He called up on families to remain committed to providing education and care to their children for the latter to grow in a favourable environment.
"Teach your children good manners, show them the best ways to behave and protect them from anything that might harm them", he appealed.
Decrying the fact that some underage school girls have been impregnated, he blamed some parents for failing to provide guidance and education to their kids and protect them.
He also called up on children to respect and obey their parents.
Referring to biblical verses, Bishop Rukamba urged the thousands of Catholic followers who had turned out for the occasion to remain faithful to God's commandment.
He told them that despite human beings breaking the rules of God, the latter did not abandon them. "[Jesus] Christ came to correct our mistakes and show us that God loves us", he said, quoting the Bible.
He called for love between people-something he said would make the world a better place and urged believers to value human life.
"The value of human life goes beyond everything on the world. It is beyond all the world's properties", he stated. "We must respect and value every human being", he urged.
"We must love each other. Life is about love-for you and others".
Around the world
Around the world, millions of Christians gathered to celebrate the Christ's nativity.
One of the places which attracted massive crowds is the city of Bethlehem which is believed to be the place where Jesus was born, news agencies reported.
While celebrating the traditional mass at the St Peter's Basilica in Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI urged Christians to 'find time and room for God' in their lives, BBC reported.
The pontiff pronounced his "Urbi et Orbi" (To the City and the World) message from the balcony of the Basilica, news agencies said.
Pilgrims flocked to the vast square in the Vatican City to watch the 85-year-old pope in person, under partly cloudy skies, it added.
The Pope prayed for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, according to BBC. He also prayed for peace in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.
"Let us pray that Israelis and Palestinians may be able to live their lives in the peace of the one God and in freedom," the Pope is quoted as saying in his homily.
"Let us also pray for the countries of the region, for Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and their neighbors: that there may be peace there, that Christians in those lands where our faith was born may be able to continue living there, that Christians and Muslims may build up their countries side by side in God's peace."