Rev Stu Cameron, CEO and Superintendent of Wesley Mission:
“2022 began with the hopeful expectation that the COVID-19 pandemic would soon be behind us. And then a new wave broke out. In quick succession, our communities have faced catastrophic floods, an escalating housing crisis and surging cost of living pressures – straining resilience to breaking point.
At Wesley Mission, we have the privilege to walk alongside people and communities in crisis. We know that people who are already vulnerable are hit hardest and have fewer resources to respond.
The reality is, for many Australians, Christmas this year won’t be filled with presents, but with the pain of having to rein in spending, and for too many, with the very real possibility of the looming loss of a safe place to call home.
Our Wesley Mission teams are seeing more people reaching out for emergency relief and homelessness services, and our financial counsellors are booked solid.
Our people have journeyed alongside families to clear the damage to their homes as floodwaters receded and to provide essential supplies and food. In the middle of the messiness of life, they have been there.
It has been in the darkest of times this past year that we have seen the strength of communities across Australia. We’ve seen everyday people doing extraordinary things, like getting in their tinnies in extremely dangerous flood conditions to help their neighbours and total strangers to safety.
And they didn’t do it just once, but time and time again. When asked why they put themselves at risk, they often answered simply and directly with: “it’s what you do”.
It’s this kind of love, this kind of compassion, this kind of care that crosses the street, that crosses floodwaters, that breaks down barriers – that is at the heart of Christmas.
That very first Christmas, Jesus was born and laid, not in a pristine crib in a sterilised hospital ward, but in the rough and tumble of a smelly animal feeding trough.
The miracle at the heart of the Christmas story is that, in Jesus, God entered into the messiness of our human existence and embraced the vulnerability of being one of us – in doing so, making clear the infinite nature of God’s abundant, transforming, expansive and inviting love.
God’s love traverses eternity to meet people, you and me, every person, right where we are.
God’s love so freely demonstrated in the Christmas story doesn’t require our life to be neat and tidy to receive it, for our life to be Instagram-perfect – after all, Jesus knew what it was to be hungry and without a home, to be lonely and misunderstood.
That very first Christmas, God said a very big ‘Yes’ over our world.
Yes, I love you.
Yes, I am for you.
Yes, I am with you.
The proof of that ‘yes’ was seen in the tiny hands of a baby reaching out for his mother from a manger in Bethlehem, the same hands that thirty or so years later would be stretched out and nailed to a cross – the ultimate expression of a revolutionary, universe-defining love that has, and will conquer all.
My friends, make no mistake, the Christmas story declares God’s ‘yes’ over you. All that remains is whether you will say ‘yes’ in return to the love God so freely offers.”