God is with us: A pastoral letter from the Moderator of Queensland Synod
The Christmas season has only just ended with the celebration of the baptism of Jesus last Sunday. During that season we joyfully celebrated the incarnation of Jesus Christ and were reminded that Emmanuel meant, “God with us”. Now the importance of holding onto this doctrine becomes significant.
About 70 per cent of our state has been inundated; some have lost loved ones; some have lost crops and livestock; some have lost businesses and livelihoods; some have lost homes and precious possessions. None is immune from the pain and shock of what we have been through and must still go through. To remember that in Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen one, we see the incarnate presence of God is vital for the well-being of our community. The Church, the body of Christ, is called to be a reminder of this reality in all that we do.
Already we are receiving reminders of this truth. We have received messages of love and support from many of our partner churches in Asia and the Pacific. We have received messages from the other Synods of The Uniting Church in Australia offering not only their prayers and love, but offers of practical support as we find the scope of our shared task. The Assembly have given the Synod a significant contribution from their Disaster Relief Fund and already the National Appeal has received $42,400 as well. This money will be used to provide ongoing pastoral support to seriously effected communities and help any who cannot access other assistance.
All of us, whether we have been directly effected or are safe from the devastation can work together to be the presence of Christ to those who have been most painfully involved in the widespread suffering. Look for those neighbours in your area who could use your helping hand. Listen to those who have suffered loss. Look for those for whom you can pray.
Congregations can take up a retiring offering to go to our Flood Appeal, or they might be able to band together to help neighbouring communities and towns.
With the massive flood and damage in the South East corner it is no longer feasible to centrally co-ordinate recovery teams as I had previously planned. If you are not able to work in your local area, then the best option is to register with Volunteers Queensland. Take notice of information that is being broadcast in your area and help where you can.
I would also like to take the opportunity to thank and congratulate those individuals and congregations who have provided shelter; given financial and practical help; organised clean up teams and simply stood alongside those who are hurting. All of these acts of generous love become the embodiment of Christ and express the nature of the Church.
Please join me in praying regularly and faithfully and be assured that God is faithful and is with us all.
Grace and Peace,
Moderator, Uniting Church in Australia, Queensland Synod