Dr Rowan Williams’ 2017 Christmas Message

“At the heart of every Christmas is a very simple image: a new-born baby lying exposed in the cold of winter. It’s a very powerful image of our own vulnerability, our own weakness, in the face of the environment. So that, at Christmas, we naturally think of those of our fellow human beings who live daily with exposure and vulnerability, and will put back in touch just a bit with our own vulnerability, with the fact that, in spite of everything, we’re not in charge of our world.

One of the most serious forms of powerlessness that anyone can experience is, of course, hunger. Take a country like South Sudan: after years of merciless and bloody civil war, food security has become a major question in South Sudan. This year, a famine was declared. Countless young people faced starvation. It’s not the only place in Africa, or indeed

throughout the world, where this is a problem. Places like Burkina Faso are facing some of the same challenges. But South Sudan is particularly vivid in my own memory: I visited there a couple of times in the last ten years. I’ve seen what life is like in the refugee camps. I’ve seen the feeding programmes, combined with educational programmes, that many local churches and charities take up. The challenge is enormous, and it’s one that and it’s one that we are determined to face this Christmas, and to respond to. A gift of £10 will feed a family in South Sudan for a week. A gift of £40, for a month.

The text that we’re thinking of from the Bible this year comes from the prophet Isaiah [58:10]: ‘Share your food with the hungry and your light will shine.’ When we respond to crises like these, when we take seriously the exposure and the vulnerability of our fellow human beings in this way, something shines forth, something is shown to the world. Life doesn’t have to be like this. We can build a world with deeper justice, greater fairness, greater security for all.

We can embrace the exposed, new-born child in Bethlehem, by embracing those who are exposed and naked in the world today. Our government has promised to match what we raise, pound for pound, so that the money you give to Christian Aid this Christmas, will be doubled. In this way, private and public sources work together, for the betterment of our world, for the honouring of God’s human children.”

Dr Rowam Williams, Chair of Christian Aid


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