Photo Credit: Open Doors charity for persecuted Christians
From the Church in Wales
The Archbishop of Wales is calling on Christians to stand up against the darkness in today’s world and show the light of God.
That means standing up for and helping people whose lives have been torn apart in this ‘especially bleak’ year, says Dr Barry Morgan in his Christmas sermon. In particular, the Archbishop calls us to support refugees, such as the millions who have fled from Syria, by urging the UK government to open its borders to more people and by donating to refugee charities.
Dr Morgan acknowledges that many people may question where God is in a world that seems to be in ‘chaos and disarray’. He warns God has no ‘magic wand’ to save the world from evil and tragedy. But rather He is found suffering with us, bringing light to our darkness. And it is up to us to keep that light shining.
The Archbishop will deliver his sermon at Llandaff Cathedral on Christmas Day. The service begins at 11am and all are welcome.
Dr Morgan says, “The Gospel of John boldly proclaims that ‘the light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it’. Is that really the case, because it doesn’t seem to ring true to some of our experiences as human beings? Our world seems to be in chaos and disarray. Wherever we turn, there seems to be darkness, grief, evil and disaster.
“This year has been especially bleak. Ebola in Africa, widespread sexual abuse of children in Britain and elsewhere; the so called Islamic State declaring war on all that seems to be decent, good and holy and executing people, in a most public and barbaric way; conflict between Israel and Palestine leading to many people being killed; the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the horrors of civil war in Syria, where the United Nations estimates that more than 100,000 have been killed but has now given up even trying to count and four million Syrian refugees have fled to Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. And last week the brutal killing of children and teachers in Peshawar Pakistan.
“In what sense is John’s Gospel right or has RS Thomas grasped the essence of things when he writes ‘In the book I read, God is love but lifting up my head, I do not find it so’. Put bluntly, has God abandoned His world when there seems to be so much darkness, inhumanity and suffering? Where is He in all of this?
“Through Jesus on Calvary God totally identifies Himself with the world’s suffering and aches with it and for it in its brokenness. And do we not glimpse something of what that means when we read of a Christian priest in Syria, in the city of Homs, who refused to leave his beleaguered congregation in their hour of greatest need and lost his life as a result?
“And do we not all know, that those who help us most when we face personal tragedy, are those who sit alongside us, simply being there, listening or holding our hand.
“Likewise a vulnerable God cannot wave a magic wand and save the world from evil and tragedy but can respond to it by being involved in its pain.”
He adds, “We cannot forget that the God we worship is revealed in Jesus who was born in Palestine, an occupied country, whose parents became refugees as they fled a genocidal tyrant in the person of Herod. That echoes the experience of millions in our world. We too may feel totally powerless where there are four million refugees who have fled from Syria alone. It ought to spur us, as Christians, to urge our government to open our borders to far more of them than the few we do shelter, and touch our own hearts in being financially generous to charities which alleviate their plight.
“God’s light in the darkness of our world is made manifest in His solidarity with those who suffer and are desperate. And if we are disciples of Jesus, then we too must witness to that light, if we really believe it is a light that no darkness can ever overcome.”