At the first Christmas, the Angel comforted Joseph by saying Mary’s son will be called ‘Immanuel’ (God with us). Joseph was understandably confused and shaken by the circumstances of Mary’s pregnancy. The angel assured him with ‘Immanuel’: God was keeping a promise to save His people. ‘Immanuel’: God comes to His people in the least expected and most challenging ways. ‘Immanuel’: the comfort that ‘God is with us’. It comforted Joseph and enabled him to gladly obey God.  

‘God with us’ is comfort and joy for us too. A cause for gratitude, no matter the year you’ve had. Psalm 75 opens: ‘We give thanks to you, O God, we give thanks, for your Name is near’. The proximity of God’s name is more than him leaving a calling card and wandering off. In Biblical thinking: name and being are tied together. Because God cannot lie or be wrong, what he reveals of Himself (His name) is exactly who He is. In John 3:18, to believe in Jesus’ name is to believe in Jesus Himself. To pray in the name of Jesus, is to pray in accord with who Jesus is; to pray with Christ’s character, mind and purpose. To have God’s name near is to have God Himself up close.

We give thanks to you, O God, we give thanks, for your Name is near’. The line looks forward to the Angel’s assurance and the reason for our December celebrations. At Christmas, we recall God becoming one of us in the child named ‘Jesus’, meaning ‘YHWH saves’ (the personal name for God is written as ‘YHWH’ in the Old Testament); in the child called ‘Immanuel’, meaning ‘God with us’. Yes, Christ has risen and ascended – but he hasn’t left. Christ poured out His Spirit on all His people and invites us to be ‘baptised into the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit’.  God Himself has come close – and remains close.

We give thanks to you, O God, we give thanks, for your Name is near’. Knowing Christ, we are invited to be people of gratitude. That gratitude can be squeezed out with the busyness each December holds. Our Christmas theme in 2023 is ‘God with us’. As you see promotional material, plan the services you’re coming to and pray for those you’re inviting – hopefully every time you see ‘God with us’ you’ll be drawn to thanks. If this is your first time celebrating Christmas with us, there is a lot to look forward to!

Women’s Christmas Craft (2 Dec)

On Saturday 2 December, women of all ages are invited to a delightful afternoon of festivity, food and Christmas craft from 2:30-5pm at St Michael’s (Wollongong site). Stacey, our Assistant Minister, will share from the Bible on “The gift that keeps on giving”. This event is designed especially for inviting friends or guests! Ticket purchase is essential and will close on Sunday 26 November; prices range from $5.50 for afternoon tea to $20.50 to make earrings or beeswax wraps. For tickets, more information and to see the other craft options click here.

Carols at Corrimal (16 Dec)

On Saturday 16 December, we are hosting carols indoors at Corrimal. Come along for a BBQ dinner from 6:30pm, with carols commencing at 7pm, in a contemporary style. Please invite your friends and family. We want to accommodate as many people as possible, and will have an option for kids to move around.

Carols on the Lawn (17 Dec)

On Sunday 17 December* at Wollongong, we’re hosting our annual Carols on the Lawn, outside on the grassy lawn between the Church Hall and Bishop’s Office. Come along at 6pm for food fans and activities; carols will begin from 7pm in a contemporary style. The evening will also include two songs performed by our wonderful Christmas children’s choir. Stick around for a complimentary supper.

* Please note our regular Sunday morning services (8am, 9:45am, 10am & 11:30am) will still be happening as well.

Christmas Eve (Sunday 24 Dec)

On Christmas Eve, we’re hosting several different services (and carols):

  • 10am service at Corrimal – a joyous Sunday service with Carols

Carols in the Cathedral at Wollongong – led by a choir, this is an uplifting service of carols & Bible readings. This year there will be 3 opportunities to attend, having been full to overflowing last year:

  • 10:30am (with kids talk)
  • 5pm (with kids talk)
  • 7pm

Christmas Day (Monday 25 Dec):

Our Christmas services will include…

  • 7:30 (Wollongong) – A more formal, classic Anglican Christmas service with Communion
  • 9am (Corrimal) – A contemporary Christmas celebration with carols, clips and a kids talk
  • 9:30 (Wollongong) – A contemporary Christmas celebration with carols, clips and a kids talk

Christmas Appeal

This year we’re again partnering with Anglicare by collecting Christmas food and gifts for those who would otherwise go without. To take part, we invite you to add a few extra items to your shopping trolley of non-perishable food or toys, book & games. We’ll be collecting every Sunday until 10 December; simply bring your items to the stage in the Wollongong hall or drop them at Corrimal church. Anglicare will collect the toys and tucker between 11-15 December. Click here for a suggested shopping list.

We’d love you to be praying for all these events and opportunities to share the good news that God is with us, and ways to show our city that He has come near. Let’s delight in shining even brighter than Christmas lights as we commend ‘Immanuel’ to our world.

In Him,

Mark Smith
Senior Minister | 8am, 9:45am & 7pm