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Thursday, 14 December 2006

President's Christmas Message

Christmas is for all, not just Christians, because the birth of Jesus demonstrated God’s love for the world.

It’s celebrated by people who never go near a church or sing a carol and by people who’ve never even heard the stories of the birth of Jesus. Christmas is for everybody. In the birth of Jesus, in whom we Christians put our trust as the Son of God, God’s love was brought to life for everyone.

The Christmas event speaks to us more than 2000 years later because it is not just a story about divinity. It is a story which is most deeply about what it means to be human – a story of human vulnerability, of hopes, fears and dreams, family and culture, exclusion and acceptance. And because of this, the meaning of Christmas continues to break into our world and challenge us all, but especially Christians, to live lives that reach out in the world without fear or favour.

Because God loves all people, we must care for them too. Generosity towards those in poverty, the homeless and those in trouble anywhere in the world is a Christian responsibility. So part of our Christmas celebration involves giving to appeals like the Christmas Bowl, for people in need across in the world.

Because people of diverse backgrounds welcomed the birth of Jesus – Judean shepherds, Galilean peasants, Persian sages - multiculturalism is to be welcomed and enjoyed – God’s intention for the world was not for people to be integrated into one uniform culture.

Because Jesus came for the whole world, Christians are called to see themselves as world citizens. National boundaries are secondary. National citizenship is secondary. We must carefully examine the values which lie behind Australian policies on border protection, immigration and citizenship tests. Diversity, inclusiveness, and multiculturalism are blessings to be celebrated, not policies that can be shelved.

My hope this year is that Christmas will remind us that so-called “Australian values” are human values and that the birth of Jesus Christ teaches us that they are part of God’s gift to us, for what kind of world would it be without the gifts that lie within us all - compassion, forgiveness, prayerfulness, justice, inclusion, and the celebration of life.

May this Christmas bring you joy and peace, fresh purpose and new life.

Rev. Gregor Henderson
President Uniting Church in Australia