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I remember hearing William Blake’s stirring anthem that proposed the thesis that Jesus once walked upon the shores of England in ancient times, but this year’s Christmas stamp presents the thesis that Jesus walked through the Australian bush! Along the way, apparently, he was pictured with cockatoos, magpies, kookaburras, koalas and possums. The obvious favourite, judging by its central position, was a willy-wagtail. Perhaps the Holy Family used the gold brought by the wise men to fund an overseas trip.
Perhaps not. In terms of credibility, the idea ranks a little lower than Blake’s flight of fancy. The Book does mention the Holy Family making an international trip. In Jesus’ infant years, Mary and Joseph took Jesus to Egypt to escape the madness of Herod’s paranoia. But apart from that, it seems that the Nazarene kept to that piece of turf that borders the east coast of the Mediterranean.
However in order not to become a total grinch this Christmas, perhaps it can be inferred from our stamp that ‘Christmas came to Australia’. Not in terms of an epiphany, but via faithful men and women who carried the gospel in their hearts, and who were bold enough to speak it with their lips. Believe it or not, good old John Newton – author of Amazing Grace – longed to see the gospel arrive on our shores, and prayed earnestly for pioneer missionary Richard Johnson, the man he knew would be bold enough to put the Christ in Christmas.
DM 15th December 2020