2023 News

Joy for All People

Wednesday, 6 December 2023

Dear Friends, 

As we prepare to celebrate Christmas, I reflect on the events surrounding Jesus’ birth. The story somehow reminds me of what we have experienced throughout the past year.

Luke records that Joseph and Mary travelled to Bethlehem to complete a census of the entire Roman world. The census served as a headcount of the population at the time. There was no real-world change that came from that event. Yet Luke gives us this fact to mark time for the most significant moment in history. Jesus’ birth.

This year, we were asked to take part in a Referendum. To vote and let the Australian government know our support or lack of support for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament. We know the outcome was 60% against and 40% in support. Regardless of our individual positions, it would be a mistake to think that this political activity, like the census from Luke’s account, had little implications. 

In speaking with our Indigenous Ministry Australia (IMA) partners, many have felt hurt, unheard and rejected. Considering any progress we’d made up until this point around reconciliation, I can’t help but believe it has stalled, possibly regressed, our Indigenous to non-Indigenous relations nationally. 

What might God be saying to us in this moment? 

The words of the Angel to the shepherds offer me some comfort.

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” (Luke 2:10)

Regardless of our views on the Referendum, God is greater than politics. 

In times of shock and despair, God offers comfort from fear and invites us all to look at the “good news” with a promise that it will be a source of “great joy for all people.” All people are offered this joy-bringing good news. Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike. I pray the good news of Jesus, who reconciles us with God and one another, might inspire our future reconciliation efforts with First Nation Australians.

Another parallel I see in the Christmas story and our current times is the dire situation faced by those living through the current conflict in Israel and Palestine. 

In Matthew’s account, another Angel appears, warning Joseph of impending violence and an escape plan. The Angel said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

Many of the two million residents of Gaza, half of whom are under the age of 18, have spent recent weeks also fleeing south toward Egypt. The Rafah Border Crossing between Gaza and Egypt is currently the only way out (for those who can) and the only way in for the critically urgent aid supplies. We continue to pray for peace, an end to all the violence and a safe return of all the hostages. 

As a newborn child, Jesus escaped violence with his parents across this same small piece of land. This crossing is a place of both despair and hope. 

What might God be saying to us in this moment? 


“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” (Luke 2:10)

The Angel’s message was addressed to scared, fearful onlookers and is also for all of us today.  

May we not be afraid. But with courage this Christmas, let’s remind ourselves of this wonderful good news of Jesus - the joy for all people - in Australia and to the ends of the earth. 

Together, let’s bring hope to the hard places.

In Faith,

John Lamerton
Chief Executive Officer

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