CHURCH leaders encouraged their Christmas congregations in Warrnambool with messages of hope and encouragement after a year of challenges.
Worshippers at services on Monday evening and yesterday were reminded of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem and its relevance in contemporary society.
“The hinge of history is on the door of a Bethlehem stable,” said Fr Lawrence O’Toole of Our Lady Help of Christians Church in east Warrnambool.
“He restores our pain and sorrow when we open the doors of our lives to God who came as a poor, small, needy baby.”
His counterpart at St Joseph’s Catholic Church in central Warrnambool, Fr John Fitzgerald, said Christmas was a “feast of hope”, especially for the marginalised, knowing there was someone on their side.
“We are called to play our part to deliver that hope,” he said.
“Just as leaders of nations visit their soldiers to give their morale a boost, the birth of Jesus was a real boost for humanity.
“God affirms us in our humanity.”
Pastor Toby McIntosh, of St John’s Presbyterian Church, structured his message around Matthew’s gospel and the five women, who included a prostitute and adulteress, who were instrumental in the birth of Jesus.
“God gets involved in messy situations and growth in people,” he said.
“No one is beyond God’s help.
“Every family has issues and breakdowns and can find help in the Christmas message.”
Reverend Geoff Barker, of the Uniting Church, said the meaning of life was to find our gift and the purpose of life was to give it away.
“It’s always something about giving and receiving love,” he said.
He said the shepherds who were told about the Bethlehem birth would have had to search for the baby Jesus.
“These days we’ve got to search for Jesus too, but the search is worth it,” he said.
“In Jesus we find meaning in life and that’s what we all need.”