Leaders of the Anglican and Catholic Churches have delivered their Christmas messages, with a focus on hope to overcome the challenges that beset many communities, including bushfires.
Archbishop Phillip Aspinall from the Anglican Diocese of Brisbane, which includes Bundaberg, writes of the breaking dawn of a new future filled with hope.
Catholic Bishop of Rockhampton, Michael McCarthy, highlights the Christmas story bringing the good news that our loving God gives his grace to see us through times of difficulty.
Anglican Archbishop's Christmas message
Isaiah 9.2-7: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light
Candles are one of the most common and enduring symbols of Christmas. Carols by Candlelight haven’t lost their magic for young and old alike. Somehow, candles speak to us.
Thousands of years ago, the prophet Isaiah wrote that the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. He was talking about the darkness of an occupying foreign military power that was oppressive, harsh and cruel. But he predicted that a child would be born who might one day become king and that his birth would give new hope to the nation.
The darkness didn’t disappear immediately but now there was something else. A light had dawned. There was something that resisted the darkness, something that gave people hope.
The darkness of drought
We don’t have to look far to find darkness today. It doesn’t take exactly the same shape as in Isaiah’s day, but there is darkness.
The darkness of drought is threatening lives and livelihoods and causing great suffering for families on the land. There’s the darkness of institutions that are failing us including banks. Royal Commissions of recent years have shown us that Australians haven’t really cared properly for children, for elderly people and for those living with disabilities. No matter how hard we try, we can’t seem to root out the darkness of corruption. And there is the darkness of natural disasters like the eruption on White Island, New Zealand just weeks ago.
The breaking dawn of a new future
But the people who walk in darkness have seen a great light. The light isn’t fully and completely here yet, but it points to a new and different kind of future. It holds out hope. We’ve seen the breaking dawn of a new future.
The child born in Bethlehem promises a new future for us all and fills us with hope.
This Christmas, as you light candles and sing Christmas carols, I hope you sense the deep joy and hope that no darkness can overcome.
Have a happy and hope-filled Christmas.
Archbishop Phillip Aspinall
Catholic Bishop's Christmas message
On Christmas Eve we will hear the words of Titus reminding us of the goodness and loving kindness of our God, who saved us ‘so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life’ (Titus 3:4-7).
We welcome the Christ Child, we sing praises with the angels and rejoice in their message to the shepherds, that message of hope, mercy and grace.
This year in our Diocese, and indeed across Queensland, we have witnessed devastating bushfires and the continuance of the drought that has decimated crops and stock and caused incredible hardship to our families who work on the land and the towns that support them.
It has truly been another difficult year.
In the midst of the difficulties and suffering, there have been many moments that testify to the resilience of our people.
Practical support and help
Ordinary people support our farmers with donations and practical help.
The community in Longreach prepares packages for those on the land to help them through the tough times; Catholic Education provides free assistance for struggling families; clothing and household goods are collected for those in need, especially the community at Woorabinda, and many, many more.
Our coastal communities raise funds to support the need and our communities are supported by our lay leaders, Sisters and Priests.
The ministries of the West are difficult, and those who minister often struggle as they deal with the demands of looking after the people.
The bushfires have disfigured our landscape and robbed some of their homes and livelihood. Our firefighters, police and support organisations do a magnificent job in keeping people and property safe, working long hours in terrible conditions. We owe them a great debt for their resilience and persistence.
Christmas story gives us hope
The Christmas story gives us hope – hope that we can stand together and live our faith through all adversity and be encouraged by our brothers and sisters who generation upon generation stood up and were counted as life-affirming followers of Jesus.”
As I travel around the Diocese, I meet good folk going about their daily lives living their Christmas message knowing that God is with us. It’s the people who keep the faith alive.
We are strengthened by the sure hope that the Christ Child brings the Good News that our loving God gives us his grace to see us through these times of difficulty.
My prayer this Christmas is that those who are suffering great hardships will find in the Christmas story a rich source of mercy and love to comfort them. Listening to the Christmas story, may those who have lost their homes or livelihoods through the drought and bushfires be assured of His presence and grace.
The Christ Child brings renewal to our spirit and raises us up.
As we pray for rain this Christmas, may we remember that God, Emmanuel is with us.
I look forward to visiting all your parishes in 2020.
Most Rev Michael McCarthy
- News: Christmas is a time of hope for drought affected farmers