Rev Gereldine Leonard, Presbytery of North East Victoria
There is no time of the year more holy for me than Christmas. Not Christmas in the secular sense, as we so often celebrate it, even in the Church, but Christmas for what it really is: the revealing of the nature of God.
The Christmas story is a simple story that tells us that God, by nature, is humble and restrained, that God sets aside all majesty, all glory, and enters human experience in the birth of a child.
I have heard the Christmas story many, many times now, and still, it takes my breath away.
It is the story of light, the coming of light into all our darkness.
It is the gift of self on a divine scale that offers us longed for completeness.
The invitation of the Christmas season is to sit for a while, allowing awe and wonder to do its saving work in us.
Alison Overeem, UAICC Tasmania
And so the lands call us
And so our ancestors lead us
As in all creation the calling of renewal of rebirth
To be all that is Mother Earth
The life giver
The hope and healing
The justice warriors
The renewal of hope
Embedded and threaded in the landscape of the oldest living culture on Earth
The Creator forever present in the Lands, with and through First Peoples, knowing and being with the creator spirit in the forever time in the now and the always
The birth of Jesus
Is the birth of a call to justice
A renewal of the hope
A renewal of the hope that is Aboriginal ways of knowing and being as the “good Samaritan“
The birth is a reminder and call to hope in the justice for all
A basket of oneness held in strength with and through the renewal of the gift of a birth
May we all sit on and with Mother Earth, the nurturer, the giver of life and be in the hope of birth and rebirth.
Rev Fiona Morrison, Cradle Coast Resource Minister
When I think about the birth of Jesus, for me, it gives me hope and comfort but it also challenges me, that God wanted and still wants to be in community with us, us humans, with me … and all the complexities and darkness and hope that entails.
It reminds me in a tangible way that God is with each of us when we are struggling with whatever we are dealing with, in the depths of our grief, in our self-doubt, in our fledging moments of hope and joy, God is with us, cheering us on, getting dirty and gritty with us.
God is saying to each one of us, that you/I matter to God and that we are so valued by God that God-self came to be one of us, as a vulnerable child, offering us hope and community with the divine self. That we can get to know God better through the actions of the adult Jesus became.
Nia Lavaki, Younger Generations Multicultural Communities
The birth of Jesus is a time where I celebrate the gift that has been given to me, the gift being Jesus Christ.
In a world broken by sin, the season of hope we call Advent calls each one of us to turn our eyes to the stable in Bethlehem where our saviour took on flesh and became one of us, to show us the way of forgiveness and love.
Rev Malcolm Frazer, Warrnambool Uniting Church
At our weekly Wednesday community lunches at Warrnambool we walk with people with all sorts of needs and burdens.
We try to assist by offering lunch and community and sometimes emergency relief.
But the giving is mutual.
In sharing their life struggles with us it helps open our hearts and keeps our lives earthed in God’s love, and I reckon that is the message of Christmas.
That God would get into the messy middle of it all by taking on our flesh and our troubles and struggles.
The Good News of the incarnation is that God is truly with us.
This is no distant creator.
God could have played it safe, remained as a King on a throne, high above and removed from all our sufferings.
Yet out of love for us and for all creation, God walks with us in fragility, vulnerability and in solidarity with all our humanity.
Rohan Pryor, Presbytery of Tasmania chairperson
I love that in the person called Jesus we see God most clearly embodied, incarnated in human form, acting with love and compassion, calling for justice and peace, eating with friends and strangers.
Careful readers of the Bible will note that the earliest Christian stories have no interest in the birth of Jesus – birth narratives were later added from which our Christmas traditions arise.
UCA theologian Sally Douglas reveals that some of the earliest Christian communities saw in Jesus the incarnation of the feminine divine, Woman Wisdom, long called ‘Sophia’ in the ancient Hebrew scriptures.
Other theologians recognise that God being born is actually more scandalous that being crucified on a cross, and that in Jesus we see the truly human one, born of a woman.
I love that the Spirit of this holy one birthed of God continues to inspire – literally gives breath to – the faithful church communities that still gather to find new and transformed life together ‘in Christ’, sharing the radically inclusive hospitality of Jesus Sophia with the world.
However Jesus was born, this birth shows that our own bodies and lives also matter, in community together with all creation, here and now.
Lauren Mosso, Synod chaplaincy co-ordinator
The story of the birth of Jesus inspires the incarnational ministry of presence that is chaplaincy.
To become one of us, as Jesus did, is to be truly present with us.
And just as Jesus came and “pitched his tent among us” without judgment, and with great vulnerability, so we risk becoming vulnerable as we accompany people through life’s big challenges.
Good tidings of great joy happen in the midst of sorrow through the simple gift of a calm, listening presence.
My faith in this story holds me as I hold space for others because it reminds me that God breaks through again and again with unconditional love.
Sacred and secular meet as we celebrate Christmas with our loved ones and enjoy favourite foods and music from contemporary carols to ancient hymns.
The presence of God is embodied with us, within us, and all around us through this wonderful story.
Rev Gospel Ralte, Presbytery of Gippsland
Christmas, for me, is a joyful celebration of the birth of the cosmic incarnate Son of God for the salvation of the fallen humankind.
It is a universal and inclusive celebration in worshipping and feasting together.
Christmas connects Divine and humankind.
It is a time of family and community gathering in giving and sharing.
As a child in our Mizo tradition, on church ground we made an extra large wind-proof straw tent which housed over 200 gatherers including children.
In the tent, using traditional drums, after worship service we continued the festive celebration by singing our traditional Christmas songs, dancing, sharing and praying.
On Christmas Day in the evening, all church families and guests came together and enjoyed a delicious feast.
Young people went from house to house singing carols to the families, and our minister, church leaders and women’s group visited the prison and hospital with Christmas gifts.