Saturday, 25 December 2010

Christmas Greetings from the Archbishop

Christmas is a time when the question of direction, direction for us as individuals and as a people, comes to the fore. It is also a time of transition for the Church.

If we think about it, the narrative of the Christmas period is about direction. To see the Incarnation, it is to look upon people in travel to a point of breaking out: not only people, of course, but the whole earth and even the heavens. A star travels, the stars look down upon the birth scene.

Movement often means a direction from where we are quite comfortable to where we are least comfortable. Much movement is forced: and that is in the infancy story too.

The nativity story, so often presented with glitter and gold, is instead disturbing, and it should be disturbing. It gives us new words to talk about the whole environment, the entire context in which you're living and in this case the disturbance involved in starting again.

The birth narratives are, as such, a pre-echo of the resurrection event: that something has started again, and has really challenged the categories available.

Of course birth is itself a struggle; pregnancy is its own Advent, and the transition from the whole as Advent into Christmas is a period of movement in profound uncertainty and then a joyful burst into the birth moment, in all its inherent messiness.

In a similar way we have had a lot of Advent already when it comes to the pregnancy of the Anglican Communion Covenant. Perhaps the recent General Synod vote can be seen as the start of its birth, with the document to bind us together emerging from in between the raised thighs of mother Church. The birth itself will, so to speak, take place in several hospitals, and this is just regarding our own local Church, as the un-ill patient moves between the maternity hospitals of the General Synod to the diocesan synods and back to the General Synod again. The recent vote suggests that the baby will not be born kicking and screaming. Perhaps we will rather say 'Ah' and learn to love the Anglican Communion Covenant as we would a new born baby.

And, of course, to take this analogy further, the Covenant is really a set of the birth of more than sextuplets even: I cannot imagine what 38 twins are called, and all coming from related mothers, but all with the same father, namely myself. Each mother is going through that transition, that movement, from the old to the new, with legs held high or, according to different cultures, perhaps a better squat into something like a birthing pool in the more progressive centres.

In general, then, we have had our travels. This is the new season. This is the beginning. This is what Christmas surely means and I would like to wish believers and otherwise a very Merry Christmas.

Rowanov Treetri

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