Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sentamu stresses relationships and action on poverty at Christmas

Feeding the hungry and housing the homeless are the appropriate responses to the vulnerable birth of Jesus, says the Anglican Archbishop of York.

In his Christmas Day sermon, Dr John Sentamu, the second most senior cleric in the Church of England, invoked P.D. James's famous dystopian novel The Children of Men to craft a message of hope and human transformation.

He declared: "The novel ends with hope: brutality is turned into compassion, betrayal into loyalty, enmity into friendship, despair into hope, self-absorption into inter-dependence, death into life. How? Not by Western science discovering the solution, nor by the plans and schemes of those in power."

Rather, "it's the vulnerable who rise up and neutralise the jealousy, treachery, violence, murder, evil and the intoxication of power."
Dr Sentamu said that Jesus Christ's birth meant that "religious beliefs were translated out of words into humanity, life and spirit, out of the intellect into the simple impulses of the soul".

He continued: "Yes. [Christ's] rule is characterised by everlasting justice and righteousness, instead of the ruthless greed and exploitation which prevailed when he was born and is prevailing now in our global village."

The Archbishop added: "In God's eyes, the quality of our relationships is more important than the rightness of our convictions."

Commenting on recent rows over women bishops and human sexuality, among others, he said: "Sadly, as followers of Jesus Christ, we are often bad at learning how to disagree, but we do need to remain in harmony. We must 'make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace', as St Paul says in Ephesians 4.3."

"If we cannot experience and demonstrate the reality of this in Christ, what have we to offer to the rest of society, with its fractured relationships?", he concluded.