“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23, ESV)

Christmas – the season of giving

We celebrate the incarnation of God, Jesus Christ, the Word, become flesh, who made his dwelling among us (John 1:14). John says, “we have seen with our eyes, we have looked at, our hands have touched … we proclaim to you what we have seen and heard” (1 John 1:1, 3).

Paul put it in these familiar words, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich! (2 Corinthians 8:9).

The immediate context of these words is Paul’s urging of the Corinthians to be generous in their support of the suffering saints in Jerusalem. The gospel drives generosity, Jesus Christ rich as he was, became poor in order to enrich us, so Paul says, follow his example of generous giving and support the needs of the saints.

One of my eye opening experiences, since becoming Moderator, is to get to know the work of PresAid, the Presbyterian Church’s own aid organisation which was founded by the General Assembly of Australia in 2007. Since that time, PresAid has distributed $850,000 to aid projects in Pakistan, Malawi, Namibia, Uganda, Bangladesh, India and Vanuatu.

PresAid is administered by the Very Reverend Bob Thomas from the St Kilda parish in Melbourne and so every cent given, finds its way to the project. That is impressive!

All congregations are asked to dedicate their Christmas collections to the aid projects nominated for Christmas 2015:

Farm water project in Vanuatu $10,000
Ablution block at Meekathara as part of the PIM patrol $15,000
Completion of St Peter’s prayer house in Kabwata, Zambia $9,000
Establishment of a children’s village in Uganda with the remainder of the funds raised.

Each of these projects has been proposed in consultation with APWM and will be supervised through the local Presbyterian church.

For more details go to:
www.presaid.org.au or contact Bob Thomas at crthomas@pcvic.org.au

Christmas is the time to focus on the incarnation, God’s love as seen in the sending of His Son into the world. The gracious, generous love of God motivates our self-sacrificial generous response in the midst of the consumer driven Christmas season. Here is an opportunity to be other-person centred, like the Word who became flesh.

At this Christmas season, Presbyterians throughout Australia have many reasons to give thanks to God:

Our theological unity and commitment to the saving gospel; three viable, thriving training Colleges for those seeking to enter ministry; church planting endeavours in almost every State; larger States taking interest to see gospel work established in smaller States; an enthusiastic commitment through APWM and PIM to see the gospel reach the unreached; the development of healthy relationships with other like-minded reformed churches throughout the world and finally the provision of fine men to chaplain our Armed Forces, Police Forces and other service personnel.

There are challenges for us all, but we face these with a vigorous faith in the Sovereign God and look forward to all the opportunities which 2016 will bring. The probability of a national plebiscite in the next 12 months on the nature of marriage will give us all an opportunity to declare the mind of the family affirming God to our communities.

The challenge of sharing the gospel with our neighbours here at home needs to be embraced vigorously and initiative will be taken by the national church to encourage congregations in local evangelistic outreach.

It has been a privilege for Maxine and me to travel throughout Australia and see much faithful work being carried out in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Our prayerful best wishes to you and yours at this Christmas season.

Rt Rev David Cook

Posted 1 December 2015