Open Hearts to Love for a Joyful Christmas

By Rainer Korte, Firle Stake President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

FOR countless Australians, faith is the cornerstone of their lives — it is the reason why people can look beyond their own circumstances and see a greater purpose.

As Christians we do not lay claim to perfection or moral precedence. In fact, it is the opposite.

Aware of our human frailties, Christians should be more understanding of the needs of those around them. That’s why faith encourages social responsibility and service — the foundation of faith in action.

And at Christmas, the desire to focus on Jesus Christ and help others increases. In the Bible,
Matthew chapter 25, Jesus taught there was no difference between serving and ministering to him and helping others — strangers — that we hear about or encounter in situations of need. “I (am that) stranger,” he said.

In our faith community a Christmas advent calendar of a different kind has helped people identify “25 ways over 25 days” to lift others through kindness and service. The “Light the World” initiative acknowledges the gifts of goodness, hope, charity and love that Jesus, the Light of the World, shared and asks us to pursue (see
#LightTheWorld and mormon.org).

In recent years, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in South Australia has brought young adults from various faith backgrounds together to work on humanitarian and community service projects and to discuss their beliefs. Overwhelmingly, the participants have highlighted shared values and challenges rather than debating differences. And they enjoyed working side-by-side to bring some cheer and relief to people in need.

It would be wonderful if we could all come together in the same spirit of acceptance and respect, to strengthen our communities with tolerance and love.

We live in a diverse world. We each belong. It would be great for our community if people with religious beliefs and those without could view each other with less wariness or judgment and more acceptance and respect.

As we celebrate Christ’s birth, let’s also celebrate the many people who quietly go about bridging
the divides, and sharing time and talents to help others. And may we strive to be like them,
reflecting Christ’s light and love to everyone in our path.

Note: President Korte’s message was one of six by South Australian Church leaders published online in the Christmas Eve edition of the Sunday Mail. View all the messages online at http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/church-messages-2017-open-hearts-to-love-for-joyful-christmas/news-story/6a7a48fdb54dad913bb6250ddfff0112