Date: Thu, 16 Dec 1999 04:19:59 -0800 (PST)
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Subject: [ACNS 1948] Archbishop's Christmas Message

The Archbishop of Canterbury's Christmas Message to the Anglican Communion

When they saw the star, they were overjoyed (Matthew 2:10)

The joy of the Wise Men is understandable. The Gift of Christ to our world
is beyond our comprehension. Christmas is always a joyful time for
Christians, a time to reflect, with thankfulness to God, upon the full
richness of his gift to the world of the Word made Flesh. How profoundly
blessed we have been over the past two thousand years by the faith and the
hope we have been given in Jesus Christ, that in him the world in all its
pain and suffering as well as in its goodness and glory, might be saved.

But this year is special. Across the world, Christians and non-Christians
will be united in marking the dawn of a new millennium. There will be global
celebrations which acknowledge in a symbolic way the indelible mark which
Jesus has made on history, and I hope there will be much rejoicing!

On 31 December, I will be joining many leading figures from Britain,
including the Queen, the Prime Minister and a wide range of religious and
civic leaders, for a national celebration in the Millennium Dome. I will
have the great privilege and joy of leading the nation in prayer and
thanksgiving. At that moment, with half the world having already entered the
year 2000, and the other half just about to, I shall be very conscious of
being at one with you all as we thank God for his goodness and ask him to
bless our future together as part of his one creation.

Of course, being at the Millennium Dome, which has deliberately been
developed on the Greenwich Meridian, I am sharply reminded that, for several
centuries, we have looked at the world in a very euro-centric way. For a
long time, maps have been centred around Europe, often exaggerating its size
in comparison with other parts. Much of the language which we use to
describe the world - the Far East, the Antipodes, the West Indies - assume
that everyone sees the globe from a London perspective.

Well, the Anglican Communion demonstrates so well how those perspectives
have changed as we enter the new Millennium. We are truly a world-wide
Communion, and we are called to value, respect and care for one another.
There continue to be so many places and so many people who are weighed down
by the burden of human suffering. We are at one in that suffering as we are
at one in the joy of faith. Indeed, it is by growing in that sense of
oneness that our pain is transfigured as we each seek to express God's love
in our own lives.

It is in that spirit that many people have become very involved in the
campaign to lift the burden of unpayable debt from the poorest countries of
the world. This campaign, led by the Jubilee 2000 Coalition, has been very
successful in drawing attention to the moral dimensions of the problem, and
we must ensure that the momentum is maintained, and developed into a
challenge to ensure that the UN targets on poverty reduction by 2015 are

Let me then end this Christmas message by recalling that the
'euro-centricity' of our modern world is a recent phenomenon. Many of the
medieval maps which exist - we have a wonderful example in Hereford
Cathedral - place Jerusalem at the centre. As we remember with joy God's
presence with us, and dedicate ourselves afresh in his service as we begin
the new Millennium, let us pray for the peace of Jerusalem, spiritual home
for millions of people, Christian, Muslim and Jew. May the Prince of Peace
reign in our hearts and our lives this Christmas, and may the peace of God,
which passes all understanding, invade this world, bringing joy and hope in
our believing.

Your brother in Christ

+George Cantuar

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