Opinion

Christmas light for our dark world

Presents under the tree or God’s presence, asks Tim Costello

All is not calm and all is not bright this Christmas. Twenty centuries or so after birth of the Christ child, the sounds of global discord seem louder than ever.

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This Christmas, tens of millions of children around the world will sleep in the streets, where they will be exposed to all forms of abuse and exploitation. In the world’s trouble spots, widespread rape and killings continue amid the never-ending lines of refugees and a background of poverty, starvation, disease and climate change.

The challenge is to see beyond the cynicism and garbage and sense the wonder of it all.

So here we are, remembering the birth of the child who would become the Prince of Peace at a time when this world needs peace more than anything. It may seem that Darwin’s evolutionary theory of survival of the fittest is in action. But is that really true?

Some will say this is just the way of the world and nothing can be done to change it. The alternative view is that the Christmas story is a gift of hope to humanity.

What are our hopes this Christmas? If we want a happy Christmas do we feel a need to screen out the pain of our world because it might ruin our celebrations? Or can we recognise Christmas as an opportunity for hope and joy to triumph over despair?

We need to embrace Christmas – the real Christmas – more than ever this year as we stand at the junction of where pain and hope meet. There is no perfection in humanity but, as Christians, we can continue to trust in God’s providence and not walk in darkness.

We live in a world ravaged by pain and evil that is impossible to understand but also possessing the raw material of heaven.

Christmas speaks of joy, love, forgiveness and healing. The challenge is to see beyond the cynicism and garbage and sense the wonder of it all.

And then we can glimpse the joy that not even the terrible violence can totally destroy. For some, Christmas is always about the presents, the feasting rather than celebration of a great intellectual mystery – God’s coming to us to bring justice to the earth.

Would Jesus be impressed that Australians have spent about $1 billion just on Christmas decorations? Probably not. He demands more than a cursory acknowledgment. We must look at the state of the world and consider which is more important – Christmas presents or God’s presence.

Surely there is no better time than Christmas to realise that a divine light always shines, even in the darkness.

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