I feel so privileged to be able to wish you a joy-filled Christmas and a hope-filled 2022.
Right across the Anglican Communion, we are facing the most enormous challenges. Outside the tragedies of war, this is the biggest time of global tension we have faced since the Communion began.
So many parts of the Communion already know what it is to suffer. Floods, wars, civil war, corruption, suffering, illness, pandemic, malaria, measles, cholera, typhoid, poverty, oppression, persecution. These continue to be the facts of life.
But we can still find joy, because that’s the world that Jesus Christ came into.
All around the world, the Communion is meeting these needs. We can’t do everything, but we can do everything that God gives us the resources to do. I know of a place in the middle of a civil war, which is nevertheless running a COVID clinic. I know of a province, where there is appalling terrorism, which is strengthening communities. I know of places that are speaking up for injustice, and saying ‘this must stop’. I know of places that are welcoming refugees and internally displaced persons.
The Anglican Communion is called to the Five Marks of Mission – to tell, to teach, to tend, to transform and to treasure the world in which we live. We are God’s church for God’s world, as the Lambeth Conference title rightly says. That’s God’s mission to us. And we can give thanks at Christmas that all over the world people are carrying out that mission.
And the challenges that God has called us to face are indeed huge. At the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow in Scotland in November I saw the struggles that people are facing all over the world, calling us to recognise that unless climate change is tackled it is a threat to every single one of us. None of us can be a passenger in this challenge. It’s one we all have to face.
As Christians we face this challenge because it is God’s world that we are seeking to preserve and care for. It is God’s church that has to look after refugees and face the issue of war, which will become worse if climate change just rages unchecked around the world over the next generation. We need to pray for that, act on that, speak about that, and take part in transformation. Let’s work together on that.
And then we look forward in hope as well. Not just at the challenges but in the fact that in ’22 we will meet online and physically. We will meet and we will celebrate that we belong to one another with all our differences. The bishops and their spouses will come from all over the world. To pray, to learn, to think, to commitment afresh to telling people of the hope that is found only and uniquely in Jesus Christ.
We will recommit to teaching people how to grow in love and in knowledge of Christ. To look afresh at how with changes in science and climate and so many ways we tend the needy. To talk about how we can transform unjust structures of society and bring reconciliation in places of conflict. And to campaign to treasure the earth in which we live.
I have learned so much about the Anglican Communion in the almost nine years that I have been Archbishop of Canterbury. I am not a pope. We are a fellowship, a Communion. Sisters and brothers in Christ of all ages and cultures. God has brought us together. Let us stay and walk together, to do God’s work together and to be together in heaven through the salvation he offers us.
Again, may God grant you Christ’s joy this Christmas, and Christ’s hope in this coming year.