Magazine article Anglican Journal

Archbishop of Canterbury's Christmas Message

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Archbishop of Canterbury's Christmas Message

Article excerpt

Dear friends of the Anglican Communion,

One of my all-time favourite Christmas stories is Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

It would be a mistake, however, to see the story as only about Scrooge learning to give. It is also about him learning to receive. He lost the ability to see the beauty of others and the joy of receiving love from others.

When Scrooge is moved to mark Christmas by meeting the needs of Bob Cratchett's family and Tiny Tim in particular, as he gives, so he receives in seeing the obvious delight of that family.

We too know the pleasure of giving at Christmas. How we rejoice as we see the gratitude of our family and friends as they open the presents we give them.

Giving is a truly ennobling thing and speaks of the character of God Himself in his total and unconditional love for creation.

God's gift of Christ is central to all our Christmas celebrations.

The challenge of Christmas is whether we are able to receive Him afresh, to allow ourselves to be open to the promptings of the Spirit, rather than turning in on ourselves and closing off from God in a Scrooge-like defensiveness and selfishness.

The gifts which will be brought to the Lambeth Conference next year will be many and diverse. All of us have stories to tell.

The richness of the ministry and mission of the Anglican Communion today can be seen in every single province. The days are long gone when Lambeth was dominated by the `richer' provinces lecturing and giving to the `poorer'. The real riches of faith, joy and vitality that are winning so many new souls for Christ today are not controlled by money. Many of us can only sit back in admiration at the stories of church growth in so many places where material poverty is so rife.

I have a dream for Lambeth 1998. It is that our gathering will be truly infused by faith and joy and vitality; that the true spirit of Christmas, of God's giving and our receiving of the gift of Jesus Christ, will transfigure the conference, so that whatever tensions and divisions we have to face, our life of discipleship and witness will be strengthened by the experience of being, talking and worshipping together. I hope that every bishop and spouse will come prepared to give, to share their story. Some will bring gifts of mission, liturgy, faith learned through persecution and suffering, scholarship, leadership and pastoral oversight. …

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