Christmas message is 'forgive'
THERE was no sleeping in yesterday for parents across the Coffs Coast, as the pitter patter of little feet turned into a stampede towards the Christmas tree at the crack of dawn.
And before families and friends got together to share presents and enjoy the traditional Christmas feast, many made their way to their church to hear the annual Christmas message.
At the Christian City Church, Pastor Shaun Foster spoke of his amazement that a baby born more than 2000 years ago on the other side of the world could stop traffic in Australia.
"Today, the whole world focuses on a single event," Pastor Foster said.
"Because this was no ordinary baby."
Pastor Foster's message was one of hope.
He said three things in life were true ? the past could be forgiven, the present could be managed, and the future could be guaranteed.
"At Christmas time, probably the most used word you hear is gift, everybody is worried about getting the right gifts," he said. "God has some gifts for you at Christmas.
"The gift of forgiveness, that takes care of the past, the gift of strength and provision, that takes care of the present, and the gift of eternal life, that takes care of the future."
Nationally, political and religious leaders reminded all Australians of the Christmas spirit.
The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, George Pell, called on Australians to embrace tolerance and unity in the wake of recent racial unrest.
"During this summer holiday season, let us show the world what Australia really is like ? fundamentally decent, tolerant and law-abiding," he said, adding that Christmas was a time to think of others, particularly those less fortunate.
Prime Minister John Howard said 2005 had seen the good heart of Australians on display.
"We have demonstrated that this is a generous, outward looking nation willing to share the good fortune that life has given us with those who are less fortunate," he said.