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‘Receive the newness’: Christmas message from Rev. Radhika

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Rev. Radhika Sukumar-White, minister in the Uniting Church in Australia, has a heartfelt Christmas message for the community.

Video transcript:

Hi friends

My name is Rev. Radhika Sukumar-White. I’m a 2nd Generation Sri Lankan Tamil Australian and I’m a minister in the Uniting Church in Australia currently serving as Team Leader at Leichhardt Uniting Church in Sydney. It’s my privilege to offer a message through Indian Link this year.

So here we are, friends, at the end of another exhausting, lockdown-filled, anxiety-filled, Zoom-filled year, mustering up the energy needed for Christmas, rejoicing in restrictions being lifted but feeling anxious about the growing numbers of Omicron cases, and grieving so much loss around the world and in all our families and communities due to this pandemic. Surprisingly, the story of Christmas is perfect for how we’re all feeling. See, Christmas is the story of a word from God addressed to an exhausted world. Often at Christmas, we’ll hear God’s Word in the book of Isaiah, addressed to a refugee camp of people who were depressed and beaten and about to give up. To this community, the word of God came in two simple parts.

First: “Do not remember former things.” Don’t let the pain and anguish of these past couple of years, or the past in general, destroy the radical newness of now and 2022. Why? Behold, I am doing a new thing. Back in the world where Isaiah was written, the newness that God was doing was to permit this tiny community of Jews to finally go home from their deportation. The newness that God did at Christmas was to send into the world this entirely new baby Jesus, who brought healing and grace everywhere he went, who forgave and transformed and called people out beyond themselves to a newness they could not have imagined.

Here we are some 2000 years later, and this still is evident in powerful ways. Perhaps this is why we still live in a world filled with conflict and polarisation because newness means breaking up old forms of power, enabling weak ones to have power, enabling sad ones to laugh, enabling sick ones to hope, enabling hungry ones to eat. This requires a dramatic reshaping of life and society and rules, and it is happening all around us, in small and profound ways. God is doing a new thing, free from what is old and tired and angry and cynical and despairing and broken.

It is up to you to seize this gift. You may decide to act on the basis of newness. You may decide that your cynicism and bitterness is binding you like shackles and you choose to break free. You may decide that it is time to forgive someone for something. You may decide to participate in a world free from COVID by getting vaccinated and encouraging others to do so. You can of course reject this message of Christmas and go back to old wounds and old fights. But friends, you need not. Instead, join the miracle, notice the gift, receive the newness. Be people who believe that the whole world will be made new, and live out that belief.

May I wish you a joyous, safe and merry Christmas, and a radically new year.

READ ALSO: Christmas message Rev Vinod Victor, St Matthews Anglican Church, Ashburton, Melbourne

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