"A Time for Joy and Peace": Archbishop Freier's Christmas Message
Dr Freier shares his hopes for the world this Christmas
December 11 2018
Below is the full text of Dr Freier's Christmas Message.
A service celebrating multicultural Melbourne at St Paul’s Cathedral late last month was a marvellous event. There were people from almost every continent: joyful, laughing, listening, dancing, singing and eating together. What a delight! The Cathedral was alive with colour, sound and movement. It highlighted what we can be together, in service of God and each other. As Saint Peter told those gathered at the home of the Roman Centurion, Cornelius: “God does not show favouritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.”
That night in Cornelius’ home was a time of joy, like the multicultural service at the Cathedral. That sort of joy, which flows from the One who came as a baby born in Bethlehem, brings hope of peace, hope of dreams fulfilled.
It is a joy that transcends the painful circumstances in which so many people find themselves. Recently I was in Amman, Jordan, in the midst of the terrible tensions wracking the Middle East, and yet I saw and heard the joy of God’s people.
Christmas is a time for joy and peace. Yes, it can be sentimentalised, trivialised by all the busyness and commercialisation of what should be a simple celebration, and it can be challenged by the pace, pressures and pain of ordinary life. But reflecting on Jesus Christ and how he fulfilled the promises of God is inspiring.
Christmas cards speak of joy and peace. Christmas carols sing of joy and peace: joy and peace in the birth of a baby in a land troubled then as now.
Mary, the mother of Jesus, trusted in God and his promises. Luke’s Gospel tells us that she treasured up these things in her heart and pondered them. Perhaps she glimpsed what we can glimpse this side of Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection: a vision of a world restored, made whole. As the famous carol puts it:
Peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!
Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With the angelic host proclaim
Christ is born in Bethlehem!
Have a happy and joyous Christmas.