The team at Journey, Bruce, Osker and Mardi, wish you and your family a safe and blessed Christmas and a happy new year.
Read on for The Christmas message from the Moderator of the Queensland Synod Rev Dr David Pitman and the President of the Uniting Church in Australia Rev Gregor Henderson.
The Christmas Message from the Moderator of the Queensland Synod Rev Dr David Pitman
Australians are often very passive people. We have from time-to-time been described as a nation of spectators. This is as true in relation to the latest test match between Australia and England as it is to the conflict in Iraq, or even to an issue unfolding in our own local community. We tend to avoid getting involved if we can. There are exceptions, of course. People can, and do, become aroused in regard to matters for which they have a particular passion. But, on the whole, we watch things happen rather than make them happen. And too often we are motivated by self-interest rather than concern for the well-being of the whole community. The end result of our apathy and selfishness is that many issues in our society are dealt with on the basis of political expediency rather than with the specific intention to act justly for the good of all.
Christmas is traditionally the season of goodwill, a time for thinking about others, an opportunity for generosity. It is always good to see people contributing money and other kinds of gifts to help make Christmas a happier time for those who would otherwise have to go without. The negative side of these acts of kindness is that they achieve little or nothing to deal with the bigger issues that confront us. This is not a reason to stop being generous, but rather a spur to become more actively and directly involved in changing our society for the better.
The essential message of Christmas is that God did something that has lasting significance. The birth of Christ was the beginning of a life that changed our world forever and that process is still going on. We are meant to be active participants in what God wants to achieve for all humanity. “Peace on earth, and goodwill to all people,” were never intended to be the glib cliches they have often become. They are a dynamic expression of God’s intention for the world, and we are supposed to be helping that intention become a reality.
This has been a challenging year for our nation. The foundations of our society has been threatened by a more overt racism than we have seen for many years, by attacks on the multicultural nature of our society, and by our continued failure to take really seriously the process of justice for, and reconciliation with, the indigenous people of this land. We have once again seen industrial conflict that has set people against each other and divided communities.
When we face crises of this kind in our society, we can be passive spectators making useless comment from our armchairs, or we can adopt a position of self-interest and pursue goals which benefit only ourselves and those who agree with us, or we can become genuine participants in working for outcomes which ultimately benefit the majority. There is a choice involved here that we all need to make.
Through the birth of Christ, God chose to become involved in our world, for our sake. We have the opportunity to become involved for the sake of others, seeking to make this world the place that God intended it to be.
Christmas Message from the President of the Uniting Church in Australia Rev Gregor Henderson.
Mr Henderson will use his Christmas Day message to remind all Australians that Jesus’ teachings of compassion, forgiveness, prayerfulness, justice, inclusion, and the celebration of life still resonate more than 2000 years on.
Preaching at Wesley Uniting Church in Forrest, the head of Australia’s third largest Christian denomination will tell worshippers that Christmas is for all, not just Christians, because the birth of Jesus demonstrated God’s love for the world.
“It’s celebrated by people who never go near a church or sing a carol and by people who’ve never even heard the stories of the birth of Jesus. Christmas is for everybody. In the birth of Jesus, in whom we Christians put our trust as the Son of God, God’s love was brought to life for everyone.
“The Christmas event speaks to us more than 2000 years later because it is not just a story about divinity. It is a story which is most deeply about what it means to be human – a story of human vulnerability, of hopes, fears and dreams, family and culture, exclusion and acceptance. And because of this, the meaning of Christmas continues to break into our world and challenge us all, but especially Christians, to live lives that reach out in the world without fear or favour.
“Because God loves all people, we must care for them too. Generosity towards those in poverty, the homeless and those in trouble anywhere in the world is a Christian responsibility. So part of our Christmas celebration involves giving to appeals like the Christmas Bowl, for people in need across in the world.
“Because people of diverse backgrounds welcomed the birth of Jesus – Judean shepherds, Galilean peasants, Persian sages – multiculturalism is to be welcomed and enjoyed – God’s intention for the world was not for people to be integrated into one uniform culture.
“Because Jesus came for the whole world, Christians are called to see themselves as world citizens. National boundaries are secondary. National citizenship is secondary. We must carefully examine the values which lie behind Australian policies on border protection, immigration and citizenship tests. Diversity, inclusiveness, and multiculturalism are blessings to be celebrated, not policies that can be shelved.
“My hope this year is that Christmas will remind us that so-called “Australian values” are human values and that the birth of Jesus Christ teaches us that they are part of God’s gift to us, for what kind of world would it be without the gifts that lie within us all – compassion, forgiveness, prayerfulness, justice, inclusion, and the celebration of life.
“May this Christmas bring you joy and peace, fresh purpose and new life.”