This year is almost over but not before we gather to celebrate Christmas, each in our own special way. Christmas can be a difficult time for some of us bringing to the fore memories of lost loved ones or past family conflicts; For others it is looked-forward-to time of extended connecting with the people that we love. It really is a privilege to have the freedom to celebrate this holiest of occasions.
This Christmas, I encourage all readers to take a few moments to stop and look around you – to be present in the now, and to look with fresh eyes, from your family to your workplace and truly see those who have made a difference to you and those around them. Bring some light into their world with two simple words, thank you.
Over the past 12 months we have seen many memorable events to give us cause to stop and be thankful for what we have and what we sometimes take for granted.
From the unfathomable loss of hundreds of lives aboard airliners, beheadings of innocents to the passing of celebrities and sporting greats, there have been immense outpourings of public grief for those that we know and those we have never met. For the time we share with loved ones, for those that searched for the missing and care for those left behind, we are thankful.
The widespread outbreak of Ebola and other illnesses claimed many lives during the year, but has spurred individuals and nations to act together to alleviate the suffering these afflictions have caused and stop their spread. This is a truly heroic task and one that we continue to be thankful for.
Natural disasters again shook our local communities, from hailstorms to fires; thankfully we were spared wide loss of life and serious injury, despite the widespread damage to property.
Abroad however, other countries weren’t safe from the ravages of nature’s power or that of civil war and terrorist acts. Think of those who are lost and affected and be truly thankful we have been spared.
We too must be thankful that in Australia we have the right to practise religious freedom, no matter what we believe, or not believe in. Other countries aren’t so lucky and this year we saw further acts of oppression and violence against those with differing beliefs and ideals.
The G20 came to Brisbane and thanks to good planning, a spirit of collaboration and the laidback Australian way of life, we were spared the troubles that have marred similar events previously. We hope and pray the G20 talks lead to positive change for the world.
The spirit of giving, both locally and abroad, were shown through the raising of funds and awareness from everything from worldwide ice bucket challenges to our own Connect 2014 dinner, generating generous donations for our community chaplains.
During 2014 we watched as some heroes fell and new ones were created, all the while not realising that we are surrounded by heroes and can be heroes ourselves. Thankfully heroic acts can be seen in sometimes unheralded work such as protecting children and caring for the elderly. You too can be a hero simply by volunteering or donating.
Personally I am thankful that this Christmas our staff, pastors, and volunteers will be working across Queensland and Victoria, as they have done 24/7 throughout the year, bringing the light of Christ into communities.
We, along with those from countless other Christian organisations, are thankful for the gift of Jesus Christ, who brought joy and light into the world with His arrival at Christmas. He truly is the reason for the season and in His name we give thanks.
I wish everyone a great Christmas, and may the Light of the Lord fill you with hope, joy, courage and love both now and always. May the New Year bring you new moments and people to be thankful for.
Chief Executive Officer
Churches of Christ in Queensland