A message for Christmas 2019
Amid Advent this year we see hot, very dry conditions, water shortages, bush fires, smoke pollution and ash falling from the sky. An apocalyptic vision of what is in store in the now not-so-lucky country?
Australians are faced with huge transformation to address moving from a fossil fuelled economy to one which is not. The science of climate change demands that we do. Our economic, social and environmental futures are so much brighter as we transform to new opportunities as described by Ross Garnaut in his new book Superpower: Australia's Low-Carbon Opportunity. He writes ‘the fog of Australian politics on climate change has obscured a fateful reality: Australia has the potential to be an economic superpower of the future post-carbon world.’
We have unparalleled renewable energy resources. We also have the necessary scientific skills. Australia could be the natural home for an increasing proportion of global industry. But how do we make this happen?
Against this backdrop how do we frame and tell the Christmas story? What has a baby born on straw in a filthy stable 2000 years ago got to do with us and the issues we face?
If at Christmas, we look at the manger and see only the historical Jesus, a baby born in a far-off place over 2000 years ago, then we have missed the point of Christmas. We have the choice of staying there or moving on to experience the wonder of being the children of a loving God who lives within us now.
We are not celebrating a birth over 2000 years ago. We are celebrating a loving God who is with us now and will lead us into the new in 2020.
If we DARE believe all this beyond the comfortable Christmas of a baby in the manger of straw, we will find Christmas to be disturbing, challenging and life changing. For I believe we are called in the scriptures to follow a Jesus who was about turning things around, in our lives, our nation and our planet.
Matthew 2: 13-23 says that Jesus is God's chosen agent of liberation, just as Moses was.
This act of liberation is not a one-off event that can be completed in one place in one lifetime. This act of liberation may have begun with the baby in Bethlehem, but it is to be continued by all those who would bear the name of Christ in every place where there is suffering, distress, injustice, poverty, despair and oppression.
The baby who fled repression in Bethlehem and died confronting it in Jerusalem, is alive. Our risen Christ is God with us. With us always so that we can be liberated from the brokenness that is within us and be healed so that we can confront the brokenness in the world outside us and bring freedom to a suffering world.
The Christmas story tells of a God of Love who became one with us.
As Australians we face many issues that need to be reformed, to be changed, turned around, and even turned upside down. It means that to follow Jesus as God’s chosen agent of liberation we will be prepared to confront oppression and injustice and press for reform in all that hurts God’s creation of which we are but a part.
That to me is the message of Christmas.
Canberra Region Presbytery
Uniting Church in Australia