Christmas Message 2016
As millions of Australians gather around their dining tables to enjoy a meal together this Christmas, many will have a variety of reasons for coming together.
Some will speak of getting through another year, others will see it as an opportunity to consider the previous 12 months, some will talk of gifts, while others will use it see it as an occasion to put their feet up following the demands of Christmas shopping.
People travel across cities, countries and continents to be with their families at Christmas, and the joy and fulfilment this brings has long been celebrated in films, songs, books and TV shows.
Most people however will talk about being together as a family and celebrating all that those relationships mean. As we remember the birth of Jesus Christ we are reminded that the angel’s message to the unlikely and unassuming shepherd’s in the field was one of celebration: “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”
The birth of Jesus remains a reason and an invitation for all people to rejoice.
No matter whom we are and what has happened throughout the year, God has gifted us the joy of Christmas: the child born in a stable in an uncertain and traumatic time continues to immeasurably change lives and the world in which we live.
However Christmas is often the time when discord and despair in families becomes more acute, and when the lack of peace, stability and wellbeing in a family is especially apparent.
For many of our fellow Australians this Christmas will be spent in the service of others – those who work in health and emergency services or, who like our Wesley Mission staff and volunteers, will be caring for those who are, homeless, fleeing domestic violence, battling mental health issues or dealing with separation from others and loneliness.
Jesus’ care and compassion for families hit by difficulty prompts us to do all we can to strengthen the families around us who struggle with illness, addiction and loss. It should also remind us that he sees the strength, weakness and value in our own families too, and is there to help us to be thankful, strong and sacrificial as we show his love and care to them and others.
In the planning and celebration of Christmas it is all too easy to forget this essential message. And in the busyness of our plans, we often have little time to consider the greatest gift of all at Christmas – Jesus Christ.
One of the most important practical gifts we could offer to each other is the desire to restore, to make good and to reignite or strengthen our relationships.
This Christmas we need to receive God’s love into our hearts, exchange selfishness for forgiveness and breathe peace into a restless world.
May this Christmas be a season of true joy and happiness for you as you remember God’s great love for us all.