Wednesday, 14 December 2016

The Season of Hope

Written by President Stuart McMillan

In Advent we reflect on all that this season means to us personally and for God’s world, the countdown to a joyous birth, the beginning of the journey through life to death and salvation.

My reflections over the past week have been rather disturbed by misfortune and woe around the globe.

In the Indonesian province of Aceh a devastating earthquake; in the Solomons another earthquake with a tsunami threatening our friends in the Pacific, including Tuvalu; and a cyclone causing destruction in Southern India around Chennai.

As a Church that lives within a worldwide community of churches, there are few disasters that do not touch lives of our church partners or their countrymen and women.

Creation groans we are told in Romans 8:22, but the message in this scripture goes on to speak of hope.           

For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (Romans 8:24-5)

And so with patience and hope in our hearts we pause, pray, and in fresh ways commit to following Jesus and loving our neighbour.

We light a hope candle this Advent, pray for our friends in these nations and others, for hope, hope for our world, and we commit ourselves to act with compassion for peace and justice.

On Tuesday night folk gathered at St Peter’s Coptic Orthodox Church in Bexley NSW to honour and pray for sisters and brothers in Egypt where St Mark’s Coptic Cathedral was bombed. Many were injured and 25 were martyred.

We cry out to the Prince of Peace for our broken world.

Even in Aleppo, in the hour of darkness the hope of the people shines through.

Amid this week hope came to me unexpectedly.

A headline in my morning paper was: "Government push for treaties to recognise separate SA indigenous groups".

As many of you know I am committed to a deeper understanding of our destiny together as a church of First and Second Peoples, to practices which will honour First Peoples as sovereign, and to negotiate just terms for our covenant relationship.

Now the states of Victoria and South Australia have declared they will address a historical wrong and seek to find a new way forward.

We give thanks to God and pray the prophet Amos declaration for our nation:

But let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. (Amos 5:24)

I hope you will you join me to pray for our Church and our nation, that we too may focus on justice.

After a busy year, I’m looking forward to travelling home to Darwin and spending Christmas with some of my precious family.

Soon enough I’ll be on a plane again and headed for Yurora, that passionate, vibrant gathering of youth and young adults in fun loving, faith strengthening, intercultural community.

For me it’ll be life-giving.

For some of you this Christmas season may be sad because of the absence or illness of a much loved one. I pray the closeness of those who stand with you in love and the love of Christ hold you.

And so, as we face a New Year – our 40th year together as the Uniting Church - beloved let us all spur one another on to love and good deeds.

Let us hold the Christ light gently so others may see beyond the darkness, and may you know the hope, joy, peace and love of God treasuring it deep within your soul.

Marrkapmirri.

Stuart

Marrkapmirri means deep affection, love as with a brother or sister.