Rev Dr Keith Garner, CEO Wesley Mission Christmas Message 2019
As we prepare to celebrate Christmas around the country, gathered around our tables may be family members from different generations.
As we reflect on global events and those from Australia in 2019 we remember so many who have been impacted by natural disasters, floods and earthquakes, acts of terrorism and, closer to home, drought and fire. Events that would have dismissed as ‘fake news’ by some in 2018 have become our unbelievable reality. From leaders on the world stage to countries on the brink of economic collapse. It would be so very easy to say that we’re living in a world gone mad.
But before we dismay, take a look at the next generations. This year I have found great inspiration and hope in the voices and actions of our children and young people. And at Christmas we find a Child, born in a manger, who is the hope of humanity.
It is not surprising that we find inspiration when we look at children. This last year I met a man at our Wesley Edward Eagar Centre that provides crisis accommodation, and he shared that he had been sleeping rough on the streets of Sydney for some time—and that could happen to any one of us in all our cities and in regional Australia.
Struggling with addiction he turned to Wesley Mission for help. His one hope, at what he described as his ‘lowest point’, was the possibility of being reunited with his young daughter. The love he had for his child was so strong a motivation to move towards a different future. And this Christmas, they will be together.
We see many other examples at Wesley Mission of parents and carers motivated by love who give enormously of themselves, whether caring for their child with disability or opening their homes to children in foster care. Parents who pursue vocational education, who seek specialist treatment for mental illness, who flee family violence and receive financial counselling because they know their children’s futures are in their hands.
When we see Christmas through the eyes of a child we realise that there is as much fun to be had from the box that a shiny new toy arrives in, then from the toy itself. And as we look at children this Christmas, may we catch a glimpse of how God the Father feels towards us. Sending his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world that we might see God himself and know the depth of his love for each of us.
John’s gospel describes the astounding occurrence and humble nature of Jesus’ birth, “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us”. And so, Christmas invites us to examine the source of our inspiration and to receive the Child who would change the course of our lives and the entire world. For that is the nature of what happened more than 2000 years ago, and what happens whenever we embrace the powerful message and mission of Christ’s humble birth and glorious life.
It can be easy for older generations to dismiss younger ones for their idealism. But can I challenge you to take seriously the message we receive from children and young people at Christmas? When children’s voices are heard, both at our tables and on the global stage, we find hope for our world gone mad.
Will you take hold of these words written about Jesus as they appear in John’s gospel? “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God...”