"J O Y, M I S S I O N , CONVERSION, Diversity, Poor, inclusive, decentralise" – these are the main words on the cover illustration from a recent copy of The Tablet, derived from Pope Francis’s latest missive to the church and the world. These are the words he uses to speak of his faith, his hope and his love. The larger the word, the more it is used and the more it is heard. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, also uses this kind of language and this kind of approach to being Christian in the world at this time. This synergy of spirit is surely God-given and a means of much grace. This is also the message of Christmas; this is what God’s incarnation is like: The “Word” made flesh, Love incarnate looks and feels and sounds like this.
JOY is the most obvious sounding here, and at Christmas we hear the words “Joy to the World” because God’s reign of righteousness and justice is coming in, is coming amongst us, is born again in us, and is taking flesh amongst us, nearer than heartbeat, closer than breathing. And this Word comes to us as we are, where we are, gracing us with an unexpected gift to our souls and lives, even and especially if we don’t feel like or think we deserve it. It still comes, with clouds descending.
It has been said that it was by a Joyful Generosity that the church captured Europe in the first place. This is what we are hearing and seeing again in these days, building on the work and the hope of so many who have come before, including previous Popes and Archbishops of Canterbury.
May this Christmas fill you with a peace and joy that the world cannot give or take away; may you be visited and blessed by the Joy of God, by the love of the Holy Family and by the hope and faith of the shepherds. Love came through at Christmas. Alleluia.
The Anglican Centre in Rome is a UK
Charity with a world-wide mission.
Interim Director: The Very Revd Dr John Shepherd
Deputy Director: Revd Dr Justin Lewis-Anthony
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