Rev Rod’s Christmas letter
THE events of the last two years or so have raised our awareness as Australians that we live in a violent world.
Graphic and horrific images of the actions of terrorists in the Middle East and Africa have raised questions about our own national security, questions given more urgency by the actions of some evil people in Sydney where innocent people were shot enjoying a cup of coffee or leaving their workplace.
The Middle East was a violent place 2000 years ago and genocide has been a feature of human history since the first records were kept.
Into this violent world was born a child who was to change the way we human beings think about the world around us, especially our relationships with God and with each other. It is quite understandable to fear being vulnerable, but God chose to enter time in the most vulnerable fashion - a child born to a couple who were undertaking an arduous and perilous journey in which they themselves were vulnerable.
Jesus' life from humble birth to violent death was an object lesson for humanity in how to relate to our fellow human beings. His life was an object lesson in love and compassion for others, in viewing the world in a way that was counter to all of our accepted values that see power and wealth as defining happiness and success.
There are those in our society who are trying to use the actions of a small group of terrorists to promote fear of anyone who looks different to us or who follows a different religion or has different social customs.
Those who promote such fears are people who have no faith themselves and are afraid of people who have a strong faith. If we have a strong Christian faith compassion is a non-negotiable feature of who we are.
Courage to take risks is also central to our identity. The Christ child is Emmanuel, God with us, and we believe that he is still with us and that he governs every aspect of the way we live.
If our faith is strong then we are called to witness to it through compassion and love, knowing that true power doesn't come through the barrel of a gun or fear as the proponents of terror would have us believe.
The blessing at the end of the baptism service is something to remember as a call to all of us to live authentic Christian lives.
Go forth into the world in peace;
be of good courage;
hold fast that which is good;
render to no one evil for evil;
strengthen the faint hearted; support the weak;
help the afflicted; give honour to all;
love and serve the Lord,
rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.
I pray that this season may be a time for us all to reflect on our Christian identity and how we are to live out that identity in this violent and ego-centric world. Remember that God chose to enter time and space in order that we may have an eternal reminder of who and what we are to be as God's children.
May God's peace be upon us all and upon this nation and the world in which we live this Christmas and always.
- Rev Rod Winterton
St Mark's Anglican Church