Uncle Pastor Ray Minniecon reflects on the celebration, welcome, Joy and Hope we have in the coming of the Light of the World.
On the twenty-first day of Advent 2022, Kate Leaney reflects on the moments that bring us hope and shine the light of the Kingdom.
Good News of Great Joy
In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
2022 was a year where, if I’m honest, at times it’s been hard to find the good. My heart has been broken more times than I care to count. The injustice and pain of the world feels overwhelming as we share the grief of friends in Ukraine, Afghanistan, Iran, Colorado Springs, and closer to home; the ongoing systemic and individual violence faced by First Peoples and in a country where Destroy the Joint and Counting Dead Women Australia researchers have confirmed and chronicled 40 deaths this year alone.… I could spend this entire reflection listing tragedies we wish never existed.
But in shared grief, there is solidarity, shared community, and hope.
Luke 2: 8-20 encourages us to not only see and seek out the good, but to share it, celebrate it, tell of what we have seen.
So instead of sitting in the grief, I will share with you some of the good I saw in 2022.
- The moment a mother reunited with her son; who fled conflict in Ukraine and found his way to Australia. After surviving the siege of Mariupol and travelling across Europe and Northern Africa, he finally arrived to the safety of his mother’s embrace. As this family joined the Welcoming Centre for a community gathering, we shared little common language, but the love and relief in her eyes and the tears that flowed from them conveyed everything words could ever say.
- Visiting the Dr King Centre for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, Georgia, and immersing myself in the learnings and history of the civil rights movement; emerging re-inspired to take part in a future of bringing about important social change.
- Celebrating Welcoming Week with thousands globally, honouring the spaces we all create where everyone has equal opportunity to belong, contribute and thrive and re-committing to building a future where this is a reality, everywhere.
- Sharing in the joy of Nades, Priya, Kopika and Tharni; finally able to call Australia, and the community of Biloela who have embraced them like family, home.
- Witnessing my friend graduate from a double degree, celebrating his academic achievement despite the myriad barriers thrown at him because after ten years in Australia, he has still not been granted the safety and security of a permanent visa or family reunification. There is hope in achievement against all odds, and the good news of paving a new future.
These moments deserve to be celebrated, to be broadcast from the rooftops.
Because in and of themselves they are moments where the good news of great joy shines through, giving us a glimpse of the Kingdom.
These moments and stories of justice show us that the Kingdom of God is near, just as Jesus came to Earth to declare.
And together, like the shepherds at Jesus' birth, may we give glory and praise to God in these moments, as they inspire us to continue to look to Jesus in the struggle for a future where all of who we are is welcomed, affirmed, celebrated and loved.
Kate Leaney lives and works on Kaurna Country, Adelaide, and is a proudly queer Christian, member of Activate Church, the Campaigns and Communications Manager for Welcoming Australia and a contributor to the Common Grace Domestic and Family Violence justice team.