Have you seen the Coles Christmas ad? It is a brilliant insight into what we really want for Christmas – the joy of being together, eating together and above all laughing together.

The last two years of being told to keep apart, separated by 1.5 metres, masks and vaccination status, have given way now to the opportunity to be together, unless you have relatives in WA. Zoom meetings are OK for work, but they don’t work for family hugs.

Even though most Australians celebrate Christmas with great excitement, most of us overlook or don’t know the real origin of the festival. Here is a clue: it is there in the name. Strip away the Santas and the elves, the turkey and the prawns, and the reason we have Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ into the world about 2000 years ago.

In a little stable in Bethlehem, a small village in Israel, a young woman gave birth to a baby. The baby, Jesus, was born with a mission to being people back together with God.

If you think about the things that you do that hurt others or promote what you want without thought to the consequences, we all regularly fall short of how we should live. These acts of selfishness, called “sin” in the Bible, lead to us being cut off from God our creator.

Jesus came to pay the price for our sin, dying to bring us back to God.

The joy that we feel at Christmas family gatherings is a sign, a pointer to the greater joy of God when people come back to Him.

“God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Now there is something to celebrate at Christmas.

On behalf of all the pastors and ministers in the Narrabri Shire, I wish you a very joyful Christmas.