After a challenging year, Church leaders have urged Melburnians to pause and rejoice in hope of Christmas

“Much has been said about what a ‘COVID Christmas’ will look like, but is that the question we need to ask ourselves? This year has challenged us in unimaginable ways; it has changed our wellbeing and security on their heads “he said

“And while we’ve looked for creative ways to engage in our worship and connections, it was never about reinventing anything”

“When you celebrate Christmas, however, don’t work on the darkness of this year – remember the miracle of this birth and the light through which we can see before us”

Worshipers, many in masks, observed at the Christmas mass in St Patrick’s Cathedral in the CBD the rules of social distancing

The two-square-meter rule applies to churches, and attendees had to check-in for Christmas Mass, which was also streamed online

Carols, including O Come, All Ye Faithful, were sung as allowed at places of worship in Victoria under COVID-19 restrictions

Melbourne’s Anglican Archbishop Philip Freier said Christmas is an opportunity to pause and rejoice after a challenging year, starting with bushfires before the pandemic hit Australia

“At Christmas we especially celebrate God’s intervention in human history to save his people, to lift them out of the Miry pit (as the psalmist puts it) and to bring us back into fellowship with him”, he said

“Because of this truth, we were able to hold on to comfort and joy during the trials of this year because of God’s promises and the assurance that He is faithful

“Comfort and joy are not just the response to overcoming a threat, as the Victorians did with tenacity and largely goodwill”

The service was launched online by St Patrick’s streamed for those unable to attend due to COVID-19Credit: Simon Schluter

Reverend Denise Liersch, presenter for the Association of the Church of Victoria and Tasmania, said the carol O Little Town of Bethlehem reflected the separation people felt at Christmas

“It is a particular favorite for Blue Christmas services when we meet at Christmas with a deep sense of what is not – aware of the disconnect between our real-world experience and the happiness and joy we are supposed to feel Christmas, ”she said in a Christmas message earlier this month

“It seems to acknowledge our fragility, the insecurity of life, the need for humility and the way we reach hope out of a deep sense of need”

Reverend Philip Mercer, moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Victoria, said the Christmas story could be summed up as the triumph of faith over fear

“2020 was a year of fear. But still today it is central to God’s plan for your blessings and salvation to remove every touch of fear from your heart and through faith in the abundant saving grace of the Lord Jesus to replace, “he said

Hillsong Pastor Brian Houston sent a recorded Christmas message saying that after a year of pandemic and recession, God offered joy, deep comfort, and peace

The chief executive officer of the Wesley Mission, Reverend Keith Garner, said this year has been devastating for many people across Australia

“And even though we were physically separated, there was a growing awareness that we need each other, that we belong together, and that our lives and well-being as communities are inextricably linked,” he said

“The pandemic has highlighted the potential inequalities that remain in our so-called ‘happy country’ And we have to face the reality that well over 100000 Australians become homeless every night

“In order for promising vaccines to mark the beginning of the end of the pandemic, we as Australians pledge this Christmas to support the hardest hit people this year as they will suffer the pain of the pandemic for much longer”

Christmas messages

Weltnachrichten – AU – “Don’t work on the darkness,” says Archbishop in the Christmas message