It’s one week and one day to Christmas Day. So it’s got me thinking about presents. There are four things that make the best Christmas presents:
- The best presents are a great surprise Don’t you just love surprises! At the first Christmas, God really surprised people when he gave the gift of his Son Jesus to be God’s king and to bring people to be friends with God. God surprised Mary. He certainly surprised Joseph! And he surprised the shepherds and especially king Herod.
- The best presents come free! You don’t need to work for them. But you do have to do something with them? The first Christmas, God gave Jesus to the world completely for free. No-one has to earn being friends with Jesus. But we need to do something with God’s gift of Jesus. We have to follow and trust him.
- The best presents are those you want to share with others.
One Christmas I got a skateboard. It was great! Part of the fun was to share it with friends in the street. When God gave the world the gift of Jesus, he never intended for us to keep Jesus all to ourselves. He wants us to share his amazing gift with other people.
- The best presents are given by those who love us a lot. The presents we get from family members are often special, because we know how much they love us. God’s gift of Jesus tells us that he loves the world and wants all people to be friends with God through trusting Jesus.
Have a joyous Christmas as we remember God’s amazing gift of Jesus!
Rev’d Jason Hobba – 5pm Congregation Member
I went to Fountain Gate the other day. It was busy! Every car park was taken, the lines at all the lunch places were three or four deep and the shops were full of people making preparations to celebrate the incarnation of Christ. Or maybe not! But at the very least the shops were certainly full of people being very busy!
Amongst all the bland northern-hemisphere themed decorations at Fountain Gate, each year they also display a nativity scene that gets wheeled out of storage for Christmas. It moves around a bit, some years I’ve spotted it near the cinema escalator, other years its upstairs near the market, and this year I think its upstairs in the corridor near Lowes. So at least one small part of Fountain Gate is celebrating Jesus’ birth!
But each year when I see this nativity scene, I’m always a bit stunned by it because it looks so out of place. It’s strange to see this largely ignored little nativity display celebrating the birth of Christ against the background all the ‘Christmas’ rush of Fountain Gate in December.
As we get closer to Christmas… don’t be like Fountain Gate, 99% focused on busyness, and 1% focused on Christ! If you are starting to feel a little stressed at the amount of things you need to do before Christmas Day, the way to a more peaceful Christmas is to simply focus more on Christ. The amount of stuff you have to do will still stay the same, but the peace and rest of God will enter into your Christmas preparations. And the best way to focus more on Christ is simply to send time with him each day through prayer and through reading the bible.
Rev. Ben Soderlund
Working with the youth at this church is a blessing. It is a blessing because I am privileged to walk with them, share in their joys and sorrows, and help them in their faith journeys to walk with and be like the Lord Jesus. Unfortunately churches lose youth very easily, with
Australian statistics showing seven out of ten 11 year old children no longer attend church by the age of 18. Our youth can easily get lost, and Berwick Anglican Church is no exception to this unfortunate statistic.
So as we move into the Christmas season I want to share with you the encouragement that our youth are to this church, and how thankful I am to God that Jesus is clearly working in their lives, creating in them a desire to pursue him, and to be a part of the church through
acts of service.
We have seen God at work in a personal way through one baptism and two confirmations this year. Our youth are also desiring to be a part of this church through using their gifts of service in our Sunday gatherings through public bible readings, music, Sunday School, and sound desk and data. God has been stirring their hearts to mission with the initiative of a trivia night given with the hope of raising money for the gospel to be shared overseas. We had a very successful and fun night in September, raising almost $500 for Bush Church Aid.
So friends I encourage you to praise God for the youth in this church! I also challenge you to take time to know them. Really get to know them, get alongside them, teach them to love Jesus, and help them be a part of the body of Christ.
For His glory,
Reece Kelly – Assistant Minister
This week I found on the internet a ‘Ultimate Christmas Countdown Checklist’ giving advice on how to prepare for Christmas to ‘ensure you’ll have more holiday cheer and less holiday stress’. The checklist starts with activities to do six months before December 25… maybe it will be of use next year! But to be frank this checklist is full of terrible advice that will make you more, and not less, stressed.
Indeed it is cultural junk like this that makes many people loath Christmas. Christmas has become all about busyness, empty consumerism, family expectations, meaningless winter themed guff and above all stress; stress at work, stress at home and even stress at church, which together crowds out time and energy for anything worthwhile. What a terrible mess our society has made of the season we celebrate the peace that is now available to us because of the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ!
Next Sunday Advent begins, the traditional Christian season which leads up to Christmas. If you truly want to ‘ensure you’ll have more holiday cheer and less holiday stress’, then I suggest that you prepare for Christmas in a very simple way – over Advent, every day, pray that God would lead you and Berwick Anglican Church into the peace and rest that is given to every Christian believer by God’s coming to us on that first Christmas day.
Rev. Ben Soderlund