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As we come to the end of another year within Fresh Hope, we are optimistically poised to engage the new year with a sense of rigour and passion. We are working hard to improve our resources and interface for local churches through the development of a new website and the establishment of the new Mission and Ministry agency specifically aligned to assist our churches in the pursuit of their mission and ministry goals. There will be some changes, but these are designed to better serve our network and our ministers.
It has been a big year for so many, as Australia continues to experience trauma particularly around religious freedoms in the political and not-for-profit charitable sector. These challenges, along with increased compliance and scrutiny around the functions of ministry make the coal-face of church life at times demanding and taxing.
In the midst of all of this, we should never forget that we are called to steward the church. This is the living, breathing body of Christ. These are the faith communities set apart to offer hope and genuine relationship. The church is the one community where a person can fully experience the grace and love of God and discover their destiny in the Kingdom of God. The church is more than a charitable entity, it is a constellation of gifted people who have a biblical world-view intending to help people discover God.
I was recently challenged by this quote: ‘As Christians, we must not confuse making our faith credible to the world with seeking its approval.’
In a culture where ‘approval addiction’ is rampant, we must surely remind one another that the journey of discipleship and Christian leadership is about humility and servanthood. As churches it is even more important that we speak life, healing, support and care into an anxious world looking for deep connection.
When we come to Christmas, I love Luke’s account of the angel Gabriel appearing to Mary the mother of Jesus.
“Gabriel appeared to her and said, ‘Greetings, favoured woman! The Lord is with you!’ Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. ‘Don’t be afraid Mary,’ the angel told her, ‘for you have found favour with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High.’” (Luke 1:28-32a)
In this one interaction, the feelings of confusion, fear and uncertainty are countered with favour and proximity (relationship with God). How wonderful that we find our identity in Jesus the Christ. How awesome that God pursues us, and offers us freedom and new life. How incredible that He favours us as we exalt the name of Jesus above every other name and god idolised here on earth.
This Christmas may you unapologetically present Jesus to a hurting and anxious world with passion, intention and clarity. May you never compromise the mission of Jesus to save and redeem a complex world. May God bless and encourage your team and church abundantly. May the joy of the Lord ignite a new season of love and grace across your community. Amen and Amen.
Executive Ministry Director