Christmas celebrations start early at Mulgrave and Brunswick Indonesian congregations.
For most Indonesian communities in Australia, Christmas celebrations always start in the first week of December when most other churches are preparing for the second week of Advent.The reason for this is practical. Many people return to Indonesia for their family Christmas celebration so they come together with their Australian community a few weeks earlier.
Christmas is always an important celebration for Indonesian Christians. In fact celebrations last for a whole month.
It is considered a time for faith renewal and recommitment to God in Jesus Christ. It is a time of reconnection and reconciliation between members of family or the congregation. It is a time of sharing generously the gifts that we received from God during the year.
The Christmas celebrations I attended at Mulgrave and Brunswick Indonesian Congregations in Melbourne on Sunday 6 December reflected very much this spirit of Christmas.
They were occasions to give thanks for the gift of God in Jesus Christ for humanity.
Both congregations used a musical drama to reflect their respective themes, Immanuel for Mulgrave and Peace for Brunswick.
The bilingual services involved children, youth and older members of the congregations.
At Mulgrave, the drama focused on the Nativity. Rev. Ayub Yahya preached about the name Immanuel. He spoke about how a person’s name is very important in the Jewish culture and tradition that Jesus was born into. A name reflects meaning and purpose of life. Jesus was given the name Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us’. In a practical way, God is always with us in every part of our life. In joy, in pain, in struggle, in success.
At Brunswick, the musical drama told a modern-day story of two families, one poor and one rich. It was about conflict, friendship and reconciliation.
We live in a world filled with tragedy. The Christmas story, as told by Luke, offers the best news in the world. The angel told the shepherds, ‘I bring you good news of great joy.’
It was a joyful experience for me to attend the Christmas celebrations at Mulgrave and Brunswick. Both congregations have found a space of grace to celebrate what is important for them in their faith journey as growing communities within the Uniting Church.