Our thoughts and prayers this week are with people around the country who have been dealing with the fear and stress associated with the bushfires.  Events like this help us to remember to be grateful every day for all that we have and to consider the ways in which we can support communities in times of need.  Last week I spoke to the Raymond House girls about the people we can care about at Christmas.  It is easy to care for the people we love and for many of us, seeing the joy on the faces of our loved ones when we share Christmas gifts or treats with them, is one of the great joys of the season.  I also suggested to the girls, though, that Christmas can be a time to show care for those who are a bit harder to love – the scratchy relative or unfriendly neighbour.  This is a harder care to show, but embraces the Christian values of forgiveness and inclusion that were lived out in the person of Jesus, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas.  Finally, I spoke to the girls about caring for those who really need us – families and individuals who perhaps do not have others in their lives to show them care, or who need financial or practical support in order to manage the season.  As a community I am so pleased that we will once again partner with the Brotherhood of St Laurence in their Toy Shop appeal, with girls being able to bring new toys to be distributed to families in need.  It is this sort of care – care for those who need it most – that in my mind is the true expression of the Christmas spirit and that lies at the heart of the Christian faith. 

Ms Elisabeth Rhodes