The grace and peace of God be with you!
At the moment I’m on Wurundjeri land, and I offer this acknowledgement of Country and pay my respects to the Elders of these lands, past and present; and I give thanks for the leaders among Congress Tasmania and Congress Victoria with whom I work.
The vision for the Synod across Victoria and Tasmania is “Following Christ, walking together as First and Second Peoples, seeking community, compassion and justice for all creation”.
It begins with following Christ, so what might “following Christ” mean for us at Christmas?
Jesus was not born in a temple, or a palace, or, of course, even a church.
He was born in a place that acknowledged some ancestry – Bethlehem, in the land of Judah.
He was born into the community of family, and a broader community around them.
He was met with the compassion of shepherds, and the warmth of a straw bed.
He was confronted with the realities of justice that crosses borders, with the visiting magi from the East recognising the unjust evil in Herod’s power, and his family having to flee internationally for safety.
Even through the stories of his birth, following Christ leads us into the journey spelt out in our vision: walking together; acknowledging the ancestry and story of this Country; seeking community with those around us led by compassion, confronted by the need for justice not just for our own, but crossing borders and for all creation.
You might be part of a gathering to celebrate Christmas, but, even as Jesus was not born in a temple, you, too, may not be in a church building.
You may be celebrating with an online community, or gathered together in a home.
In any of these ways, we practice following Christ.
And even if you are on your own, you are welcome on the journey of following Christ’s birth, and baptism, and life that changes and captures our own.
In a world that needs community, compassion and justice, Jesus shows us how to lean into that with humility, faithfulness and love.
In Christ’s birth, a light shines in the darkness and a new day comes to dawn.
As we follow Christ, together, may Jesus’ humility, faithfulness and love shine through in our own lives, and bear God’s hope for the world.
Rev David Fotheringham