Christmas gives ‘hope’ to darkening world

By Australian Associated Press

Published: 23:16 EST, 24 December 2017 | Updated: 23:17 EST, 24 December 2017

Christmas is a celebration of those who are poor, powerless and on the margins, Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge has said in his Christmas homily.

Speaking to a packed St Stephen's Cathedral on Monday he said the Christmas story gave hope to a darkening world and to the church.

Archbishop Coleridge said Jesus's birth in Bethlehem more than 2000 years ago was the greatest of gifts and it continues to give for both the world and the church, particularly in despairing times.

He said heightened anxiety from both the young and the old with both acts of terror and mental illness had made "the world seem a very insecure place".

"There's a lot of darkness around and what Christmas is about is a birth of a baby … and there's a tiny little light that can dispel all the darkness and that's what people are looking for," he told reporters after mass.

"The darkness is real but there's something bigger than the darkness, and the something is a someone, and the someone is unbelievably a baby born poor, powerless and on the margins.

"In that sense Christmas is a celebration of those who are poor, who are powerless and who are on the margins.

"This is their day."

During his homily, the archbishop embraced Christmas's solstice origins, saying the pagan winter feast brightened spirits at the time and Christianity was right not to spoil the party by ending it.

"So Christianity didn't quench the spirit of celebration but baptised it," he told the congregation. "The Christ child was the little light that would eventually become the great light of Easter."

Despite dwindling numbers across all Christian denominations, particularly among youth, Archbishop Coleridge said Christmas gave the church the most opportunity for outreach.

The "profound" story cuts through more than that of Easter.

"Kids sense something deep about Christmas," he said.

"A lot of the God stuff can seem awfully abstract and remote but babies and births aren't abstract and remote.

"Easter is different and harder to get your head around rising from the dead."

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