Christmas message from Archbishop Paul Kwong, chair of the Anglican Consultative Council
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Greetings to you all, dear friends
The season of Advent is a time of renewal and reflection as we await Christmas and prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Our modern lives are very busy. But this is a moment to pause and consider again the coming of the Prince of Peace, a light sent into a world of darkness by a God of love to bring reconciliation and hope.
This has been a momentous year for me. It was a great privilege to be invited to serve as chair of the Anglican Consultative Council when we met at ACC-16 in Lusaka in April. The Anglican Communion is a truly global family and my desire is to help to strengthen relationships within it by building connections. I would ask for your prayers as I seek God’s leading for the year ahead.
But for many within our Anglican family, it has been a difficult year. So much of our world has witnessed conflict, oppression, drought and hunger. Millions of people have been displaced from their homes and communities by war or natural disaster – so many have experienced violence, bereavement or discrimination. I invite you to continue to remember them in your prayers too.
We have a mission to bring hope and peace to a world in need. This is a time to share our joy at the birth of our saviour, Jesus our Emmanuel.
I wish you a peaceful Christmas and pray that 2017 will be a year of blessing.
A Christmas message by the Primate of the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, Archbishop Paul Kwong.
Dear beloved citizens of Hong Kong
May the peace of our Lord be with you all!
The arrival of Christmas signals the end of the year. In the past year, a number of international events, such as on-going armed conflicts and terrorists attacks in some parts of the world continued to draw public attention, while a national referendum and a presidential election held in some countries produced unexpected results. In Hong Kong, there were movements of Hong Kong “independence” and the LegCo [the Legislative Council of Hong Kong] oath row.
The common feature of all these events is division and exclusion. On the surface, they seem to be about divergent political preferences, but if we look more deeply, all of these events are really about the breakdown of social values and the distortion of human relations.
In recent years, apart from discord over political issues, a similar alienation can be found in economy, society, religion, ethnic groups and culture. The causes of these phenomena are many and complicated, although they are generally attributed to populism, globalisation, government governance, cyber culture, ethnic issues, class conflict and polarisation between the rich and the poor. However, at the root of all these issues is humankind itself, human egocentricity, arrogance, narcissism and rebellion. In other words, humankind itself is the real problem. As the Bible says: “Why do you see the speck in your neighbour’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3). To put it plainly, we don’t see ourselves as the problem but we blame others.
Comparatively speaking, it might be easier to repair political damages, for as a politician once said: “There are no eternal friends or eternal enemies, only eternal interests.” Relatively speaking, the damage and the breakdown in human relations are more difficult to heal and repair. Today, we see that the destructive forces and the negative energy of humankind can be so enormous that they can disintegrate a society and destroy morality. This causes polarisation, the reduction of issues into either black or white, seeing people as either friends or enemies, seeing all politics as either pro-democratic or pro-establishment. People are becoming increasingly anxious about our situation, and so it is no wonder that a senior government official recently said that people are worried, concerned, disheartened and discouraged about Hong Kong.
Facing such a difficult situation, it is understandable that Hong Kong people may feel discouraged, but we have not given up. People are sick and tired of the damage done to our country, society and human relations. What they hope for is an harmonious, stable and happy environment in which to live, a place where people treat each other with respect and deal with issues based on humane values. Such basic values include conscientiousness, responsibility, self-reliance, etiquette, mutual respect, sacrifice for the sake of greater good, tolerance, humility, and rational dialogue. However, it is well known that such a vision is difficult to realise because it is always easier to destroy than to rebuild.
Even when we despair and are discouraged, Christmas brings us hope and new opportunity, because God speaks to us in a non-confrontational, non-insulting, non-aggressive and non-divisive voice. He speaks through a baby born humbly in a manger. It is the voice of new life full of challenges and difficulties, but this tiny voice is the source of all power and energy. It is the voice of love that saves humankind and changes the world.
Christmas tells us that God did not have a plan of Superman or a special formula to solve all human problems. Through the love of Jesus Christ, God restores the relationship between God and humankind and the relationships between people. God wishes humankind to be one in the love of Jesus Christ and to be united in diversity. This may seem stupid and useless to humankind, but God’s ways are different from ours. What we might think would be useful would be useless at the end of the day. And so the Bible reminds us: “For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength” (1 Corinthians 1:25).
The birth of Jesus Christ realised God’s love for humankind, a love that radiates great and powerful energy that can turn the minds and hearts of humankind to build up society, overcome difficulties and meet all challenges. No one is left out of God’s love. God has high expectations for each and every one of us because He never looks back but lives for now and for the future. God is not concerned with human appearances but with human hearts. Jesus Christ always gives a new sense of purpose to those who repent, a purpose which is love so that the good will enlighten humanity and destroy evil.
Christmas invites us all to spread Jesus’ love throughout Hong Kong and to dispel hostility in our society. Let us work with God to build a city of joy, peace and kindness so that Hong Kong can become a blessed place where goodness prevails and we can all bless one another.
I wish you all a blessed Christmas. May the grace of God be with you and your families, and may you all enjoy good health!