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Australian churches preparing to spread the message of Jesus’ birth with music and events

Sydney, Australia

Churches across Australia will host a variety of concerts and activities ahead of traditional Christmas services this year, as a nation weary from COVID-19 restrictions celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ.

Hobart’s Anglican St David’s Cathedral in the island state of Tasmania, will host two performances of Handel’s Messiah with an orchestra, choir and soloists Michael Lampard, Lana Kaims, Alexander Rodrigues and Nicholas Tolputt on the 16th and 18th of December at 7pm.

Australia Perth Uniting Church in the City

The Uniting Church in the City in Perth, Western Australia, is one of numerous churches running events in the lead-up to Christmas. PICTURE: Courtesy Uniting Church in the City

The cathedral’s City Minister Christopher Waterhouse said the Cathedral would have to limit numbers to 300 this year, due to COVID-19, despite having capacity to perform every night for a week before an audience of 500.

He told Sight people have lived with a lot of uncertainty in the past couple of years and were “absolutely” wanting to connect in a more spiritual way with the message of Christmas.

“There is very clearly a hunger for hope, and for some meaning and purpose,” Waterhouse said. “I think for too long we’ve thought we could create Hope and purpose ourselves as humans – manufacture it [and] surround ourselves with the trappings of a life and find our meaning in that way. Then all of a sudden, those things you thought you could rely on are dismantled, or not available. Suddenly people are going, ‘Hmm, life is a little bit more uncomfortable, and we seem suddenly more vulnerable than we’ve been before’.”

He said in that vulnerability, people were seeking for something, “a foundation, and something really meaningful, something grounding and hopeful” and were really drawn to what the message of Christ’s birth might mean in their lives.

Music will also play an important traditional role in events leading up to Christmas for many other churches.


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In Perth, in Western Australia, Uniting Church in the City Lead Minister, Hollis Wilson, said while the congregation was made up of three church sites, many of their Christmas events would be hosted at the Wesley city church.

This included various musical events and a children’s art program. “Because we have a really strong music program, we are going to have something called The Spirit of Christmas, which will start on the 13th December and will go through to the 16th December. That will be at Wesley from 5.30 in the afternoon.”

The programme is targeted towards commuters at the train station opposite the church as they head into town and home.

“It’s a complete music program every day until 6.50.”

Other events include a brass quintet playing carols on the 16th from 12.30pm, Nine Lessons and Carols on Sunday 19th and a separate carols service for their social justice service also on the same night. An art program for children was being held for the third year running.

“We’re really excited about that. We’re already booked up.”



Wilson said in WA, there had been less noticeable rise in numbers of people seeking spiritual support, probably due to the fact that the State was more isolated from the rest of Australia and had not had to undergo the lockdowns of some eastern States.

In Sydney, St Peter’s Catholic Church in inner-city Surry Hills will run its 13th Annual Carols Festival ‘Christmas in the city’ accompanied by a live orchestra and choir of more than 35 musicians.

It’s ticketed performance on the evening of 19th December will include traditional carols, Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus and Zadok the Priest, as well as Tchaikovsky’s Crown of Roses with a performance of Arensky’s Legend Variations.

Meanwhile, in Melbourne, St Paul’s Cathedral Choir will perform its ‘Christmas Lessons and Carols’ service on the 12th at 4pm, while the Open Door Gospel Singers are scheduled to perform its ‘With One Heart and One Voice’ event on the 19th at 4pm.

For some churches, Christmas is a time of reflection and acknowledgement of missing loved ones.

At the Brougham Place Uniting Church in North Adelaide, in South Australia, its website advertises its ‘Quieter Christmas’, providing a chance to “share a moment of peace, a time to remember a loved one, a space to breathe, a chance to reflect, an opportunity to pray” on the 19th from 6pm.

 

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