Bishops share message of love
FOR the people of Central Queensland this Christmas will be vastly different from the one last year when heavy rains and floods devastated so many areas, writes Catholic Bishop of Rockhampton Brian Heenan.
"This Christmas we hope for a return to a normal season when sunshine and possibly a few showers will give us pleasant times to celebrate with family and friends and enjoy the holiday break," Bishop Heenan says in a Christmas message for Bulletin readers.
"Yet, when we think about the deep significance of Christmas, there is a reality that does not change from year to year - a meaning that is constant and foundational.
"For Christian people, the celebration of the birth of Christ is not a one-off commemoration, but an ever new discovery that God in the person of Jesus Christ has a place in our midst.
"That presence of Jesus is with us always and its impact on our lives grows stronger as each year unfolds. As the Scriptures remind us 'the people that lived in darkness have seen a great light' (Isaiah 9:2) and the 'light came into the world and the darkness could not overcome it' (John 1:5)."
He said Jesus Christ was always with us to be a light in our lives, to offer direction and confidence, to provide us with values for living and to connect us directly with our God who loves us unconditionally.
"It must be acknowledged that even at Christmas time our lives can be a struggle with dark clouds of suffering, illness, bereavement and separation, yet Jesus remains present, a light in the darkness," Bishop Heenan said.
"Christmas reminds us that Jesus is forever, divine and human, personal gift to all and never diminished or withdrawn.
"He is the reason for the season. He is our constant reminder that life is worth living, that love of family and friends are strangers, is the key to right living."
Anglican Bishop of Rockhampton Godfrey Fryar, in a December message to his diocese, said Christmas in both its religious observance and secular celebration involved the sharing of gifts.
"The best gifts that we may ever receive may have nothing to do with Christmas culture," Bishop Fryar said.
"These are the gifts that come to us unexpectedly, marking no particular occasion, and are a complete surprise.
"Such gifts tell us just how much we are loved.
"They can be as simple as the spontaneous gift of a small child to a parent or grandparent, quite left field, and immensely moving."
He said he saw the birth of Jesus and his life as a most wonderful gift, given simply because God loved us.
"A gift remains a gift whether it is received or not," Bishop Fryar said.
"The patience of God is such that whether or not people acknowledge who the gift is, the gratuitous present is always there waiting to be unwrapped," he said.