Uniting Church Moderator urges generosity of spirit this Christmas
In his 2013 Christmas message, the Moderator of the Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of New South Wales and the ACT, the Rev. Dr Brian Brown, urges generosity of spirit for people in need this Christmas.
Christmas is a deeply special time for family and friends to be together. This Christmas will be particularly special for members of the Australian Armed Forces who’ll be home with their loved ones after fighting in our longest war in Afghanistan. There really is no place like home at Christmas.
Indeed, some people will go to extraordinary lengths to secure a home; like the Sydney property developer who recently spent over $700,000 for a unit for his 5 year old son.
At the other extreme are unfortunate people escaping situations where their homes are no longer safe, and may spend years in foreign refugee camps or detention centres, or risk dangerous journeys in the desperate hope of finding a place to call home. Many have died in the process.
In between these extremes are the homeless on our city streets, those who wait in cheap hotels for a housing commission dwelling, and those who have lost their homes in the bushfires. In some places, people are homeless or forcibly relocated to make way for the festivities of major sporting events such as the Olympics or the World Cup.
In the natural world, the habitats of species such as pandas and orangutans are invaded and stripped, koala’s homes destroyed by bushfires, and the Great Barrier Reef, already partly denuded by our folly, is at increased risk by proposed dredging for bigger and better coal ports in northern Queensland.
The Christmas story itself reveals the suffering of homelessness as reflected in the experience of the Holy Family, for whom the inn had no vacancies, and who fled as refugees to Egypt to escape persecution at “home”. As it says in John’s Gospel “He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him.”
Jesus demonstrated a different way in the story of the homecoming of the Prodigal Son, whose father welcomed him with open arms, thus expressing the heart of a welcoming and nurturing God.
We rejoice at the message ‘troops home for Christmas”. Anything that keeps people away from home at this time needs to be morally justified- like those who staff essential services so we can be safe and happy in our celebrating.
Any reason less worthy than that, be it driven by fear, greed or indifference, needs to be examined in the light of the compassion and hospitality of a God who remains aggrieved when even one sheep is still wandering lost in the wilderness.
What a great Christmas homecoming it would be if our material wealth as a nation could be matched by a generosity of spirit that sees more homes for the homeless; secure visas for refugees; children and their families freed from detention; and our natural world given the protection it needs and deserves.
On behalf of the Uniting Church Synod of New South Wales and the ACT, wherever you are, may you share the rich blessings of a Christmas at home in the heart of God.
For Moderator’s 2013 Christmas video message go to https://vimeo.com/82055454
For a transcript you can download it here
For Further Information Please Contact:
Adrian Drayton, Internal Communications Manager
The Uniting Church in Australia Synod of NSW and the ACT
T: 02 8267 4303