Dr Deidre Palmer, President of the Uniting Church in Australia has shared a pastoral letter to the church, celebrating Christmas and marking the end of 2020.
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus,” (1 Corinthians 1: 3-4)
This is a greeting that I have heard echoed by Uniting Church members and I have prayed myself, as we have longed to be together again in face-to-face worship and community gatherings. I join with other members, expressing our gratitude for sisters and brothers in Christ who have been companions on the difficult journey through 2020. We also give thanks to God for the abundant grace of God that continues to shape our lives and who we are as the church.
In this season of Advent, we reflect on the coming of Christ into our world with anticipation and hope. We also look to the end of 2020, which has been a year like no other – ‘unprecedented’, challenging, marked by grief and multiple losses. One that has called for our endurance, our creativity and adaptability, and has caused us to draw deeply from the love and comfort of God that sustains us.
In this time of great disruption and significant change, we have talked about our priorities and what really matters, writer and artist, Jan Richardson expresses this beautifully in her reflection on Christ the Light: “It matters that we hold the light for one another. It matters that we bear witness to the Light who holds us all, that we testify to this light that shines its infinite love and mercy on us, across oceans, across borders, across time.” Advent 3, Testify to the Light, The Advent Door, 2014.
I write this letter of thanks to you for all you have done in this year to continue our life of worship, witness and service to Christ, as the Uniting Church in Australia. You have borne witness to the light of Christ, in your worship, your pastoral connection, your advocacy for justice, your creativity, your humour, your kindness, your persistent hope and love. You have ‘held the light for one another” and I am deeply grateful to be part of this communion of Christ, this movement of the Holy Spirit, we call the Uniting Church.
As we give thanks to God for the coming of Christ, who brings liberation and God’s saving grace to our world, may you know God’s peace and love calling us into a new year and a future with hope.
At Christmas and in the New Year, may the light of Christ shine in your life, and be reflected in the communities in which you serve. Grace and peace be with you,
Dr Deidre Palmer
President of the Uniting Church in Australia