Rev Dr Keith Garner: Christmas Message 2015
Across countless dinner tables this Christmas conversations will no doubt turn to the horror of Paris and the terror attacks here in Australia.
At a time that is normally full of celebration, a shadow of doubt is cast across our security and all that we cherish. We share gifts but eat our Christmas meal with one eye on media and a conscious fear of what is next?Our families and friends give us strength. Our history and shared values give us unity in the face of anxiety and dismay…and we can also draw an enduring strength from the message of Christmas
The Christmas story tells us that Jesus was born during a time of great social upheaval and insecurity. The violence and fear we experience today was not unfamiliar to the social and political situation of his time.
His birth was in a stable in humble surroundings. His parents Mary and Joseph fled their homeland fearful of persecution and the murder of their new born. Tyrants ruled the known world. Life was cheap and uncertain.
Nothing much has changed in 2000 years. We still live our lives in uncertain and treacherous times. Life can become challenging when we least expect it – and a situation of calm can soon become very stormy.
In the often sombre context of this scenario, God’s amazing love in Jesus Christ can shine through brightly. The message of Christmas gives us a deep-seated sense of wellbeing and joy.
Trials, difficulties and fear can rob us of our joy, but we can keep our heads held high because we rejoice through the power that can come as a result of facing up to what life throws at us. We often view this joy as though it were an experience or an emotion, when in fact it is ‘a decision’.
Each day at Wesley Mission we help people who face up to enormous personal challenges: poverty, homelessness, mental illness, loneliness, fear and family breakdown. These people choose hope and move forward in life. They can teach each of us not only about the power of redemptive love but about how despair can be acknowledged and finally overcome.
No matter how bad things get, God’s presence means that He will be with us and help us. This Christmas, God’s presence will be made real across Wesley Mission’s many programs as we bring food, toys and gifts to disadvantaged families, support the lonely and the aged and give hope to the homeless.
We do this because we know Jesus Christ is the Lord of all history. Nothing ever leaves God bewildered or astonished. Nothing ever catches God by surprise. He is with us now and into the future. From this place of confidence we can love others with peace, purpose and hope in our hearts.
We need not fear because Jesus is indeed Immanuel, “God with us”.