Op-ed: Love, Hope & Kindness are Universal Blessings for All
Friday 24 September 2021, The Examiner
“And the angel said unto them, fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” – Luke 2:10
What better message for Christmas, than one of hope. It is the time of year when we sit back, take a rest, spend time with our loved ones and reflect on the year that was. It’s a time that we celebrate our achievements and perhaps contemplate on what could have been better. We share food and gifts with one another and are reminded of what is most important in our lives: the love of our friends, families and community.
With the tragic events recently and two years into a global pandemic this has brought into sharp focus the need to support each other, work together and make sacrifices for the greater good.
You do not need to be a Christian to share in the joy and hope that Christmas represents. You don’t even need to believe in God. The Christmas message is a universal one of hope – that we are all capable of loving one another and of doing better by one another. I think that the story of the birth of the son of God, come to sacrifice himself for humanity is about two things: understanding that you have worth and deserve love and a place in this world (love) and secondly, that we all are capable of better loving, showing kindness and generosity of one another (hope).
Unfortunately, not everyone feels that they have worth or have a place in this world to call their own. Christmas, for many people, brings into focus the things they do not have, such as a home, toys to give their children, or good food to share with their loved ones – or even, loved ones to share it with. This is where I believe we can be capable of better loving one another.
Right here in Launceston, the City Mission encourages people to “give joy” at Christmas time. This can be through donating presents or money to the City Mission – or one of the many other – Christmas appeals, or by donating your time on Christmas Day with others at the Community Christmas at the Albert Hall.
Being open to everyone the Community Christmas brings together new migrants, parents with their kids, older people and others who come from right around the state to join in. A special visitor from the North Pole even stops in for a visit! Quite literally anybody is welcome.
Each year, scores of volunteers spend their Christmas and the days and weeks leading up to it, helping out organisations like City Mission, The Smith Family, The Salvos, St Vincent de Paul and local organisations like Strike It Out, or the Green Bean Café preparing food and gifts and spending time with people who are reaching out for connection during a time of the year that many can struggle with. Everyone deserves a good meal, every child deserves a present and we all deserve a meaningful connection at Christmas.
How lucky many of us are to have surplus love and time to share at Christmas. It makes a genuine and significant difference to many people and I have witnessed this firsthand during the times I have volunteered at the Launceston Community Christmas lunch. Some people come every year and it’s been lovely to see some of the kids grow a bit each year. There is one lady who comes to Launceston from Devonport each year, because she loves it so much. The volunteers and coordinators are kind, dedicated and deeply passionate about making Christmas special for someone else. Many local companies donate goods, services and their time to make a contribution to this wonderful cause. There are activities and presents for kids, music, singing and bell-ringing and, of course, plenty of delicious food and desserts to go around. With the advent of Omicron to the State I believe it may now be takeaway this year.
With this in mind, I give a challenge. Do just one charitable thing this Christmas. Leave a present at the Giving Tree, sign up to volunteer or reach out to a family member, neighbour, colleague or acquaintance – even if it’s just to give them a Christmas card. While many already do this I believe if we all manage to make just one Christmassy gesture, we will have made the world a better place.
And this brings me back to the message of Christ: “in Him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” – John 1:4-5.
No matter your faith or your position in life, Christmas – and its message – is for everyone.
Merry Christmas and a safe and happy New Year.