In Queensland at Christmas time, Poinciana trees are in full bloom. The explosion of red colour against the green leaves means that trees not normally noticed during the year suddenly get my attention. Families gather under those trees in parks and backyards to renew bonds of love and care, to remember who is missing and to make new memories for the generations to come.
This year the Queensland Synod is looking at Christmas through the lens of Isaiah 55. At first glance this passage may not seem like a Bible reading for the Christmas season. There is no mention of angels, shepherds, Mary, Joseph or Jesus.
It was set in a time when God’s people were away from their homeland, living under the power of a foreign ruler. Some people were in deep despair and many felt that God had forgotten them. There will come a time, announces the prophet, when you will “go out with joy and be led forth in peace”.
The prophet imagines that if they could, all the trees in the fields would clap their hands! He describes a picture of the whole cosmos cheering about the new way of being when the Messiah, God’s promised ruler, would be in charge.
Since Jesus came to establish the kingdom of God, the rulers of this world have not disappeared and wars have not ceased. We, as people of God’s kingdom, bear witness to the coming of Jesus within, beside and alongside, (and sometimes in spite of) the regular structures of society.
The kingdom of God is like a poinciana tree, sometimes bursting forth with colour, yet often not obvious except to those who know how to recognise it in parks, backyards and maybe even in shopping centre car parks.
How might we become personally involved in making God’s kingdom obvious? We can pray for those people whose homeland is a war zone or where people are so scared to go back to their neighbourhood that they would rather become refugees. We can give from our abundance to assist people affected by disasters far away as well as those having a hard time in our own district. We can write to politicians about the things we see happening that reveal that God’s reign is not fully in effect in our nation.
God’s peace and joy are there all year round, but like the poinciana trees may not be noticed as you go about life. This Christmas, try taking the joy of Christ into your community and make the peace of God evident in your relationships.
Rev Kaye Ronalds
Queensland Synod Moderator