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Another Archbishop’s voice: Rowan Williams on the gift of Christmas

Another Archbishop’s voice: Rowan Williams on the gift of Christmas

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams writes about the significance of Christ’s birth on ABC’s Religion Ethics. From his reflection:

Relationship is the new thing at Christmas, the new possibility of being related to God as Jesus was and is. But here’s the catch and the challenge. To come into this glorious future is to learn how to be dependent on God. And that word tends to have a chilly feel for us, especially us who are proudly independent moderns. We speak of “dependent” characters with pity and concern; we think of “dependency” on drugs and alcohol; we worry about the “dependent” mind-set that can be created by handouts to the destitute. In other words, we think of dependency as something passive and less than free.

But let’s turn this round for a moment. If we think of being dependent on the air we breathe, or the food we eat, things look different. Even more if we remind ourselves that we depend on our parents for learning how to speak and act and above all how to love. There is a dependence that is about simply receiving what we need to live; there is a dependence that is about how we learn and grow. And part of our human problem is that we mix up this entirely appropriate and life-giving dependency with the passivity that can enslave us. In trying – quite rightly – to avoid passivity we can get trapped in the fantasy that we don’t need to receive and to learn.

Which is why it matters that the Letter to the Hebrews portrays the Son in the way it does – radiant, creative, overflowing with life and intelligence. The Son is all these things because he is dependent, because he receives his life from the Father. And when we finally grow up in to the fullness of his life, we shall, like him, be gladly and unashamedly dependent – open to receiving all God has to give, open to learn all he has to teach. This is a dependency that is utterly  creative and the very opposite of passive. It is a matter of being aligned with the freest activity we can imagine – God’s eternal love, flowing through us.

Read the full essay here.

Rowan Williams


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William Veinot

This was such a thoughtful and wonderful meditation to read and ponder. Kudos to the Episcopal Cafe for passing on this gem. The full meditation is a delight. Any art aficionado know the artist behind the artwork?

David Allen

Adoration of the Shepherds (1622)
Gerard Van Honthorst

He also did Adoration of the Child, two years prior.

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