Dear Friends and Colleagues in Ministry,
It’s a great joy and privilege to write this word of Christmas encouragement to twice as many of you this year in the Sydney Central Coast Presbytery, from Mosman to Marsden Road to Mannering Park. So be encouraged! Together we have an opportunity to help each other breathe a breath of new life into the congregations, schools and chaplaincies in which we serve.
At Christmas, of course, we work hard to prepare a fresh word of hope, peace, joy and love for our people; and as usual, at Christmas we have no idea who will turn up. Half the congregation will be overseas or at Grandma’s, and we don’t really know who we are preparing our prayers and sermons for. Who will visit this Christmas? Shepherds? Kings? Our members’ doubtful-looking nephews, impatient sisters-in-law and their curious but suspicious children, on high alert to stranger danger? The challenge is to speak some news that is fresh enough to be unexpected when everyone knows exactly what they expect; news good enough to break through the hardened accretions of all those unmet expectations; news challenging enough to shift a friend or total stranger just enough to ask a new question of their own life; news gentle enough not to frighten a young girl away from an angel; news crystal-clear enough to declare again that though the world may not have changed that much in 2000 years, God has not done with it yet.
Friends, however you have done it, are doing it, or are preparing to do it this year, I am praying for you and your churches to to remember and to show that God Is With Us. That is all – that is enough. The world is doing its best to show that it can appear pretty godless. Do not baulk at the challenge to connect the message of Christmas with the wide world and its needs, alongside the simple joy of children and the more complex hopes of families around us. God is with us. Amen.
I know many of you will have a well-earned break in January. Please enjoy the time with your own friends and family and stay safe. I will be on leave from New Year’s to the 15th (with a little exception to farewell Laurel from Roseville on 15 January). I’ll be “in the office” on Wednesday and Thursday after Christmas doing some catch-up reading and shuffling my unfiled papers. Oh, and hopefully fiddling with the SCC website. We plan to make it ‘go live’ on Boxing Day, for the curious or workaholic. When you look at it you will notice that it is not complete: the next bit is to get all our congregations and mission centres in the frame with up-to-date info. Check it out: http://sccpresbytery.org.au/. After Boxing Day.
May God bless you, your families and congregations this Christmas. Enjoy your summer holidays, and I look forward to being with you again in the New Year.
Rich Blessings from the God who is With Us Always,