By Nick Dole
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has embraced the families of the Sydney siege victims during a church service to mark the second anniversary of the attack.
Families of Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson lit candles for their loved ones at St Stephen’s Uniting Church, just metres from the scene of the Martin Place siege.
Several survivors also attended the church service, including Jarrod Morton-Hoffman, Selina Win-Pe, Louisa Hope and Joel Herat.
The order of service was titled “Sometimes it is hard to rejoice”.
The minister, Reverend Dr Stephen Robinson, said the families’ ongoing grief was made worse at Christmas time.
“Words like joy and peace written on Christmas cards seem like a dim memory of another age,” he said.
“[However] Christmas can be a celebration of beauty and a celebration of new life even as we experience the bleak emptiness of someone that we love missing from our Christmas table.”
NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione was also among the congregation, along with New South Wales Premier Mike Baird.
On December 15, 2014, gunman Man Haron Monis walked into the Lindt Cafe and took 18 hostages
In the early hours of December 16, he fatally shot cafe manager Mr Johnson.