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Archbishop's Christmas Message For New Vision

WaterAid Uganda 2012

Monday 17th December 2012

The Archbishop writes a Christmas Message for the New Vision Newspaper in Uganda. His message in full follows....

What an honour to be able to send Christmas greeting to my fellow Ugandans through the New Vision newspaper!

My ‘new vision’ came when I first accepted Christ at my church youth fellowship in Uganda when I was 10 years old.  I began to see life in a completely new way, and had to change my priorities. I knew there were things I was doing then which had to stop. Following in the way of Jesus made all the difference. 

That is exactly what we need today. A new vision. Wherever we happen to live in the world we are all feeling the effects of the global recession. Things look pretty bleak, financially, even for many  in the UK who have got used to a comfortable standard of living and are now having to face the reality that money does not grow on trees. People living in poverty, wherever they are, will always come off worst at times like this. What we desperately need is a global vision to unite and inspire everyone for growth, development, and human flourishing. Wishful thinking?  We need to see the vision made real. Christmas does exactly that.

In Jesus, born in Bethlehem, born a baby, born a King, we find God made visible. In Christ we begin to see the way forward for everyone. ‘Followers of The Way’ was the earliest description of the Church. We try to live Jesus’ way, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to the glory of God our Father. 

He was born a baby – just like us. When I was born I was not expected to live. I was a sickly child. Humanity is fragile. And yet the almighty God invests himself 100% in a human infant, in Jesus, born among us, Emmanuel, God with us.

This means, for me, that any new vision must embrace the weak, the vulnerable, and the people who have no one to speak for them. Sometimes we forget, when celebrating the victory of Christ, that he identified with sinners in his baptism, and fully shared our humanity. We need to recognise that vulnerable humanity in others, and in ourselves.  It will mean we cannot help but look with eyes of compassion. Then we will be more ready to understand, to forgive, and to help, than to judge or to condemn.

Jesus of Nazareth was also born a King – different from most of us. Jesus’ birth at Bethlehem, the city of David, reminds us this was not a private, family affair, but a public event and of international significance. First the shepherds came – summoned by the Angel and the Multitude of the Choir of Heaven; then the Magi came from the East to worship. Herod the dictator saw the child Jesus as a threat. 

Jesus is a challenge to the rulers of the world. He demonstrates supreme authority in a life of service, of truth-telling, and of personal integrity. There is no razzmatazz about Jesus’ form of authority. He comes among us as a servant, born in the likeness of men, and is humble and obedient to his Father in heaven. He is ready to pay the price of authority. He lays down his life for us all.

I shall be cooking Christmas Dinner as usual for my staff in the Diocese of York. I love cooking, and I like to see them enjoying each other’s company. I want them to know I appreciate the hard work and service they offer.

This Christmas let us welcome the Christ child, Jesus, one of us, yet King of all. With the shepherds ‘Let us go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us’ (Luke 2.15).  In thanksgiving let us offer him both the worship of our hearts and the service of our lives.

A very Happy Christmas to everyone! And God’s blessing for the coming year. 

And, on a personal note, may God bless the new Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, the Most Revd Stanley Ntagali, as he begins his new ministry among you this Christmas!

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