Christmas is a rare time of year when the faith and celebration of the Christian church spills over into the wider community. It’s a time when some will respond to an invitation to an Advent or Christmas event. Some come of their own accord. It’s also a time when we can join those celebrating in the wider community.
I’m privileged to be in a Christmas Choir performing around Hobart. (although those who hear my imperfect efforts to hit the right notes may not feel so privileged!) We perform – not in churches – but in markets, malls, shopping centres and nursing homes. We sing traditional Christmas songs. Many people love to hear them, although I’m sure not all think about their message, often couched in archaic language. Carols evoke sounds and memories of Christmas past. They’re seen as an antidote to commercialism, and as great for children, as are stories of the birth of the baby Jesus. For some of us singers, and some of our audiences, the carols are an expression of our own faith and a celebration of the Coming of Jesus.
In Advent we focus on the themes of Hope – Peace – Love – Joy, in the lead-up to a to celebrating “God with us” on Christmas Day. How do we reflect these qualities as we interact with others during Advent? How do we speak words of peace, hope, love and joy when we are able? How do our actions show that we are fair dinkum?
Members of our congregations do this in many ways: giving in cash and in kind; giving their time – volunteering to serve those in need, caring for family members, visiting the left-out, isolated and lonely. Many beyond our churches also express such care in this Season – the boundary between church and wider community is delightfully blurred!
This is the start of the Christian year. Let’s accept the challenge to keep on taking this message of hope – in words and action – through 2020, in the face of a community and a world that suffers an excess of hopelessness, fighting, hatred and despair.
God is with us – out there in the community!
Lay Worship Leader – Hobart North UCA