The sights and sounds of the Christmas season are all around us. The giant Christmas tree is up in Martin Place, decorations adorn our shopping precincts and I even stumbled upon a ‘pop up’ digital radio station that plays only Christmas music. Seriously, there is only so much Mariah Carey one can take! Our tree at home is up too, and in every room, it seems, Sue has a Nativity scene of some description on display. Baby Jesus is everywhere!
Truth be told, I really do like Christmas music, the classic carols in particular. My favourite would be ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’.
Come into our Pitt Street office and you will also see our Christmas Display. I reckon it’s our best, ever. The tree inside the door is nice, but frankly modest. It’s not that, but what is adjacent to, and flows through the entire foyer that makes this year’s display so spectacular. Let me explain.
Last Saturday we launched our first Foster Care Art Exhibition, an idea brought to life through the creative collaboration of our chaplains, pastors and our Out of Home Care team – along with so many others. Through this collaboration, almost ninety children and young people in our care submitted pieces of art – drawings, paintings, collages – each representing their interpretation of what kindness means to them. Each artwork is accompanied by the artists own words about kindness. Some will make the hardest heart cry. The banner adjacent to our Christmas tree, and the first pieces of art on display, says it well:
‘We hope this exhibition will encourage each child and young person who created an artwork to realise their God-given value and worth as they see the importance we place on their artwork this Christmas.’
The exhibition launch on Saturday was a highlight of my almost three years leading Wesley Mission. Many of our artists and their carers came as we celebrated their work, as did many of our staff, congregation members, pastors and others. There was food, face painting, a jumping castle. Even Santa made an appearance. Kirsty, a three-time Archibald Prize finalist, also joined us as our guest judge, offering insightful and encouraging feedback on every work submitted. Every artist present was celebrated with a certificate and prize. In short, it was awesome.
After the brief presentation ceremony, I chatted with one of our young people who had submitted artwork. I thanked her for her courage, knowing a tiny bit of the many challenges she has had to overcome in life. She shared with me, ‘I know it’s only a certificate, but this means the world to me.’ I will always treasure that brief conversation.
One of Wesley Mission’s four key strategic directions is ‘Deepening our Word and deed.’ Saturday’s event, and the exhibition itself, is a perfect representation of what this means – a coming together of our congregations and community services to continue the work of Jesus Christ in Word and deed. I am so very grateful for all who brought this idea to life, one that I hope, no, I am sure will become a wonderful new Wesley Christmas tradition for years to come.
Our Foster Care Art Exhibition will be on display all through December. So please, if you have the chance, come in and drink it all in and be blessed by the wisdom, creativity and courage of these remarkable children and young people.
As I finish, let me also invite you to participate in other Christmas activities at Wesley Mission, including our special Christmas Day service (10am), and our very special Christmas Day Lunch (all the trimmings!). You can find out more here: wesleymission.org.au/get-involved/celebrate-christmas-day-2023/