|Text: 1 John 4:9
God showed his love for us when he sent his only Son into the world to give us life.
Having done a bit of travelling to other places itís
interesting to listen to people tell their stories about the adventures they
have had in strange and exotic places. They talk about the culture of a
the sights they have seen and
their visit to places that are just bursting with history that goes way beyond anything we have here in Australia.
Without a doubt no matter what wonderful things we might see in other places, places that are so different to our country and so wonderful,
travellers usually conclude their travel tales with something like, "There is no place like Australia".
As the song goes:
I've been to cities that never close down,
From New York to Rio and old London town,
But no matter how far or how wide I roam,
I still call Australia home.
When the first Dutch explorers, and then the English pirate, William Dampier, came to our shores, they couldnít find a nice word to say about this land. They used words like Ė "god-forsaken hell-hole, dry, desolate, where nothing worthwhile would grow, inhabited by the most miserable people on earth".
This is a country with so much beauty, such contrasting landscape - from deserts to snow-capped mountains - so rich in resources, a land of great potential, a land with an indigenous people whose intimate relationship with the land is remarkable Ė all this was right under their noses and yet they failed to recognise it. They took up anchor and sailed away, never to return.
Itís possible to have a treasure right under your nose and
not realise its true value. That can also happen with Christmas. The joy that we
have as we celebrate the festive season can be focussed so much on
giving and receiving gifts,
decorating Christmas trees,
food and drink,
the sweet smiling children as they open their gifts,
the time spent with relatives and friends
that we miss the most important thing right under our noses Ė the baby in the manger whom the angel calls "Jesus" - which means he will save people from their sin. That is the real reason why we celebrate.
The angels who sang in the fields of Bethlehem didnít celebrate the birth of just another baby; they rejoiced that God's love was so strong that he dared to send his Son into the trouble and danger of this world. Because of his love for us, God sent us his Son, to become a human. This Son grew up and later died on a cross and rose again from the dead so that our sins might be forgiven and be given the hope of eternal light.
Jesus came for every person in the world Ė he came for Australians. He came so that every Australian would have peace and joy in the knowledge that God loves this land and its people, and wants every person to be saved. God wants everyone to trust him, to have faith and believe that Jesus has died for them. He wants every Australian to come to the realisation that the boy born in the shed, came to this earth, to this country, to rescue them and give them hope for the future.
Itís true that the first Christmas took place a long time ago, in a far away place, and in a culture very different from ours. But this story is not just a story; itís not a legend or fable; itís not a sweet story like Pinocchio or Sleeping Beauty. Itís a story that involves you and me. Itís the story of the coming of the Saviour of you and me Ė the story about the Saviour of every Australian. This story is one that is meant to be shared. Itís a story thatís meant to be shared with friends and family - tell them about God's love and the baby in the manger who is God come to earth to save.
We heard this verse in the reading from the First Letter of John, "God showed his love for us when he sent his only Son into the world to give us life."
Letís celebrate and thank God for his love.
Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Joy! Joy! Joy!
© Pastor Vince
4th December, 2005