Dear Friends,

It has certainly been an unusual year! But in North Queensland we have come through relatively intact, and we now have the joy of being able to gather together in our Churches to celebrate Christmas.

As Christmas draws near we welcome Brothers Matthias Tovotasi, Kelliot Betu and Abaijah Waraua to Thursday Island. Also in January we welcome the Reverend Tom Pountain and his family to Ross River Anglican Church in Townsville and the Reverend Andrew Kenioriana and his family to Pormpuraaw. Thank you to all who have come to minister in North Queensland.

At Christmas we celebrate the ultimate gift – Jesus Christ. Our God gave us of himself – love incarnate, God in the flesh. This reminds us that as Christians we are called to give of ourselves: not just a little bit, but fully. The last year has been difficult but through self-giving – especially in time, in patience and in complying with numerous regulations – we have come through it quite well in North Queensland. Please continue to be self-giving as we face other challenges in 2021 which will try us and the bonds of Christian love. Unfortunately the issue of the blessing of same-sex marriage appears likely to dominate the Australian Anglican Church in 2021. Remember that you will not be judged on whether you win an argument, but you will be judged according to the grace and love you show to those you disagree with. As God has given to us at Christmas, may we give to others: and in so doing may we proclaim the salvation given to us through Jesus Christ.

We also at this time pray for Fiji as it suffers and recovers from Cyclone Yasa. All our Pacific neighbours are increasingly vulnerable to natural disasters due to climate change – as indeed we are in North Queensland. There will shortly be many appeals. As we have more news from Fiji and further information about appeals, these will be sent out.

After the year that has been, and looking forward to the year that will be – Christmas is a good time to pause. Many of us look forward to spending time with family and friends and leaving the pressures of work behind. We share gifts and we share time and we share love. We also have time to rest and reflect. May God give you every blessing this Christmas and his hope and joy as we move into the New Year.

 God bless you and keep you

The Right Reverend Dr Keith Joseph
Bishop of North Queensland

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