Christmas is a time of family reunion and celebration for many people. This year this will be powerfully true for Timothy Weeks’ family in Wagga Wagga. Freed Taliban hostage Timothy Weeks says he never gave up hope during his “long and tortuous” captivity in Afghanistan for the last three years.
Speaking in public for the first time since his release almost two weeks ago, Mr Weeks expressed his heartfelt thanks to those people who secured his freedom. He said: “At times I felt as if my death was imminent and that I would never return to see those that I love again but by the will of God I am here, I am alive and I am safe and I am free. There is nothing else in the world that I need.”
While we rejoice with the Weeks family, for many others this Christmas will not be so full of hope. Many continue to be on high alert as the bushfire season continues unabated. Others are starting the long process of restoring what has already been decimated by the fires. Drought continues to rob many people of their livelihoods as it cuts its way through so much of our country. While others find it hard to enter into Christmas celebrations as they struggle with financial stress, chronic illness and indifference to their suffering.
But, at its deepest level, Christmas is about celebration. It is the celebration of the birth of Jesus. At its heart is the conviction that God has chosen, through Jesus’ birth and subsequent death, to join with us in all the dislocation, disasters and distress of our life. It is the promise that no matter what situations we face in our lives we are never alone, nor is our journey ever meaningless or unaccompanied. Christmas is the declaration that God is with us. Paul, the apostle, offers this blessing for us all, ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.’ Romans 15:13
Rev Keith Jobberns
National Ministries Director
Australian Baptist Ministries