Rev John Gilmore, President
National Council of Churches in Australia
We are soon to celebrate God’s presence with us in the birth of Jesus and we also encounter the reality of our world and the difficulties so many face. There is such a contrast with the beauty and wonder of the Christmas story and the present-day reality of the Holy Land
The angels sum up the expectation of Jesus’ birth in what they say to the shepherds in the hills around Bethlehem.
‘Do not be afraid, for see, I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord.’
Their song was full of hope and joy.
‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace, good will among people’.
They enter Bethlehem and find the baby Jesus and worship.
Bethlehem now is within the West Bank of Palestine and is about 70km from Gaza. Not far at all. Tensions in the West Bank are also high and Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem will be muted and Manger Square may be without the usual festive lighting.
Our hearts echo the cry of the angels and we with them pray ‘on earth peace and goodwill among people’. Goodwill includes concern for the other, approval and affirmation, and actively expressed care. Much goodwill is needed!
When there is heartfelt good will it is a sign of peace being made real. Australia’s First People need to experience goodwill from us all. Those overwhelmed by the cost of daily life need to receive goodwill in this special time of year. People in Gaza, Israel and the West Bank need goodwill from and for each other.
Our prayer this Christmas could be that all in distress experience goodwill, love, peace and justice.
(NB. In the Western Church, Christmas is celebrated on 25 December 2023. Most Orthodox Churches will celebrate the Feast of the Nativity on 7 January 2024.)
Download the PDF link below to read the 16 messages from Australian Church Leaders
document2023 Christmas Messages from Australian Church Leaders final (481 KB) | released 12 December 2023