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Three years ago Louisa Hope survived the Sydney Siege. Today she shares her story of faith, hope, reconciliation to help heal the divides in our country.

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Louisa Hope is a Sydney Siege survivor who is determined to take her experience of horror and allow God to transform it into a beautiful opportunity to declare Jesus’ love.

Today's reading is Malachi 3:1-7

Reading today’s passage, I am reminded that our Lord of grace and justice does not change. And as the world changes at a rapid pace around us, I hold onto that truth and wrap it around my heart – particularly at this time of year.

This week as Christmas Carols played down the supermarket aisle, I heard that classic John Lennon song “…and so this is Christmas, and what have you done, another year over, a new one just begun.”

That tune always causes me to pause and reflect: what have we done? In the distraction of gift buying and grocery shopping, we could easily forget that refugees are still on Manus, the Rohingya are still living on the run, and that our own Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander brothers and sisters live without Treaty. It can feel overwhelming as we contemplate how much suffering can occur in just one year.

Of course, my feelings about world events that are beyond my humble capacity to fix, are not what matters. It’s what I do about our Father’s desire for justice that counts - Love is a doing word, after all.

Closer to home, Christmas brings reflections on other matters that I’d happily not recall. I’m reminded of my experience in the Lindt Café siege in Sydney, just three years ago now. This Saturday, our city comes together to unveil the official memorial to the two innocent people who lost their lives that day.

Our unchanging, ever-loving God, was God on that tragic day too.

Having survived that day, I remember the Police Rescuers laying me on the road in Phillip Street as I waited for the ambulance to take me to hospital. Amidst the running and shouting of the Police in those urgent minutes, the city was deathly silent. I was quickly taken to Prince of Wales Hospital for surgery as my heart filled with the anxiety of what would happen next - a gnawing fear that we could yet again face race riots in the streets of our beautiful city.

Where do you go when faced with a situation that you cannot fix? Surely, that is to our ever-loving God who does not change, as our reading today reminds us.

As our city recovered from the collective shock of what had just happened, Sydney came together with flowers and said it would not be divided. Even now, three years later, that action alone fills my heart with hope. It’s a hope that we can overcome, that when we set our hearts with God’s intent, justice will prevail and Love will be done in our generation.

While I don’t have answers to the world’s troubles, this Christmas as we celebrate a baby born, I am greatly encouraged. It points us to our resurrected Jesus and reminds us that we too can be revived, reborn and renewed in love and positive action.

There is always hope, and we can find rest in Him who does not change.

Daily Reading Malachi 3:1-7

The Coming Messenger

See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?

For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.

Then I will draw near to you for judgment; I will be swift to bear witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired workers in their wages, the widow and the orphan, against those who thrust aside the alien, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.

For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, have not perished. Ever since the days of your ancestors you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. But you say, “How shall we return?”

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