and so this is Christmas ….

I love Christmas. It makes the world seem like a better place. Brightly lit Christmas trees and decorations fill our towns and cities delighting children and adults alike. People rush about looking for that special present for a loved one. And of course an occasional glimpse of Santa. Carols played and sung. It is the season of goodwill, peace on earth, a time of giving, a time our spirits are uplifted.

Of the many memories of Christmas past the fifteen years I was privileged to participate in Melbourne’s Carols by Candlelight alongside my colleagues in the Melbourne Staff Band will be experiences I will never forget. Christmas week included an initial rehearsal with the choir, and a dress rehearsal the evening prior to Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve the event is broadcast live throughout South East Asia, South Pacific Islands and New Zealand with live telecast Australia wide. Add to that the corps carolling engagements and work commitments it was a very full week.

                           

                                  Melbourne’s Carols by Candlelight               

                            

                        Melbourne Staff Band at Carols by Candlelight c1982

To be on the stage as dusk fell and see tens of thousands of candles lit and waving as Australia’s top performers from a wide spectrum of musical genre sang or the crowd joined in singing carols is an awesome experience.

                            

                                                     Brian Naylor c1970

One of the presenters of Carols during my involvement was Channel Nine’s esteemed newsreader Brian Naylor. Sadly Brian and his wife Moiree perished in the bushfires that ravaged Victoria in 2009 claiming 173 lives.

 On Christmas Day1974, the excitement of the night before quickly dissipated as the radio alarm woke me to the news that Darwin had been destroyed by Cyclone Tracy. Switching on the TV the news reports showed a city completely destroyed. For the citizens of Darwin and the relief workers, Christmas 1974 would not be a happy one.

Yes Christmas is a special time of year. It is right that we celebrate the birth of our Saviour. It is right we enjoy the festive season with family and friends, but let us take a moment to remember those for whom Christmas this year will be difficult. Those who have lost love ones, lost their livelihood, those separated from family and friends by distance, the sick. Let us, in the spirit of Christmas, do what we can to make their Christmas just a little bit happier.

Who would have thought that what was needed

To transform and save the earth

Might not be a plan or army,

Proud in purpose, proved in worth?

Who would think, despite derision,

That a child would lead the way?

God surprises earth with heaven,

Coming here on Christmas day.

 

Shepherds watch and wise men wonder,

Monarchs scorn and angels sing;

Such a place as none would reckon

Hosts a holy helpless thing;

Stable beasts and by-passed strangers

Watch a baby laid in hay:

God surprises earth with heaven,

Coming here on Christmas day.

 

Centuries of skill and science

Span the past from which we move,

Yet experience questions whether,

With such progress, we improve.

While the human lot we ponder,

Lest our hopes and humour fray,

God surprises earth with heaven,

Coming here on Christmas day.

 

Without CHRIST there is no CHRISTmas

To my family and friends in Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, Italy, India and here in the UK I wish you all have a very happy Christmas and may 2012 be all you would wish for you and those you love.

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