Every life counts
Keith Garner’s Christmas Message 2012
Throughout Christmas, there will be lots of Australians who will be connecting with others; many will be supporting people, while most of us enjoy our special lunch or dinner:
- nurses and doctors in hospitals
- our emergency service workers
- Wesley Lifeline’s counsellors and
- Wesley Mission staff who will be caring for the homeless, the aged and disadvantaged
Christmas is a time when we connect with others; with family and friends and those who are special in our lives. It is a time when we value face to face contact more than anything. We love to gather to share, to laugh and sometimes to cry.
It’s very different to the world of new technology and social media, which can leave us feeling very well connected … but all alone. Technology and social media have given us some wonderful innovations, but have kept us distant from the personal relationships we need as human beings.
I have heard it reported that some people prefer to text rather than talk. They may feel that conversations don’t give them enough control over what they want to say, while a phone call or a meeting reveals too much. Perhaps it is the bigger issue of avoidance which is driving the need. And maybe beneath this there is the fear of rejection.
Too often we are tempted to give precedence to people we are not with over people who we are with: some text during dinner with their families and friends. Others text when they are with their children in the playground or at sport.
Children and spouses get frustrated because family members are not in the moment: unable to make eye contact or continue a conversation. There may be a generation of children growing up who see adults as not present and available to share the joy of something new or something discovered. Instead they are fixated in cyber space, losing the precious moments that God has given us.
Being distracted from those close to us does not sit easily with the message of Christmas. The celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ should draw us closer together. At Wesley Mission we value the opportunity that Christmas gives to make connection in terms of compassion and concern for those in need. For many of our own people, Christmas is an occasion to demonstrate that we actually care.
The good news of Christmas is that God has connected with us through Jesus Christ.
Jesus came into this world, enabling us to know what God is like. Nothing could be more immediate!
One of the motivating thoughts of my own ministry is “every life counts” and I don’t know of any time of the year when that sentiment can take on flesh more than at Christmas.
Jesus Christ is, and will always be with us, in our moment — in the highs and lows, and in the complexities of life.
In a world which is dominated by social media, the ageless message of Christmas is of God’s love made real in the birth of a vulnerable Child who brought — and still brings — hope to a fragmented and needy world.
The Rev. Dr Keith Garner, CEO of Wesley Mission, Sydney, is the leader of Australia’s largest Uniting Church parish. Wesley Mission is also one of Australia’s biggest church charities. It has been caring for the needy and disadvantaged for almost 200 years. It has over 1,800 staff and 2,470 volunteers working in more than 100 centres.