From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
ACNS - Christmas message of Archbishop Rowan Williams
Worldwide Faith News <email@example.com>
Fri, 06 Dec 2002 18:10:56 -0800
ACNS 3221 | LAMBETH PALACE | 6 DECEMBER 2002
Christmas message of Archbishop Rowan Williams
[This message is also available in: Arabic 7 Chinese 7 English 7 French 7
Portuguese 7 Spanish 7 Swahili from:
One of the great treasures of the Christian world is the great heritage of
Christmas songs and carols in the English language from the Middle Ages.
Modern composers still want to set these beautiful and often surprising
words. Some will have heard the carol beginning 'There is no rose of such
virtue as is the Rose that bare Jesu' - which picks up the ancient tradition
of describing Mary as the rose blossoming from the wintry earth of human
But the important words come in the second verse: 'For in this Rose
contained was Heaven and earth in little space'. Jesus in the womb of Mary
is already the one 'in whom all the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily',
in St Paul's wonderful words in Colossians. The eternal Son of God is not
contained by the universe; he is what surrounds and sustains it all. Heaven
and earth live by the gift of life from him ('in him was life', says St
And here, in the 'little space' of Mary's body, divine fullness is alive;
when Jesus is born, 'the fullness of him who fills all in all', to quote
Paul again, is wrapped in cloths and tucked into a feeding trough. After the
crucifixion, the fullness of God's life is locked away in the tomb. God's
way with us is not to overwhelm us with majesty but to live his life 'in
little space' and to speak there the quiet words that summon us to faith.
Only when we are very quiet can we hear. Only when we stand still can we
give him room. Faced with the fullness of God in the embryo, the baby, the
tired wanderer in Galilee, the body on the cross, we have to look at
ourselves hard, and ask what it is that makes us too massive and clumsy to
go into the 'little space' where we meet God in Jesus Christ.
It may be our wealth and security; it may be our ambition; it may be our
images of ourselves as powerful or virtuous or godly. The world - and the
Church - are still fairly full of people (like you and me) who walk around
surrounded by inflated ideas and pictures of ourselves that crowd out others
and push away God. We need at Christmas above all to remember what Christ
says again and again - that there is no way in to his little space without
shedding our great load of arrogant self-reliance, bluster, noisy fear and
And when we have set this aside, we find that it is only in the little space
that there is room enough for all of us - forgiven, welcomed, made
inheritors of the divine fullness of life and joy that God longs to share
with us. Behind the low door of the stable is infinity - and more, an
infinity of mercy and love. No straining our eyes to see a distant God; but
a God whose fullness dwells in that space we are not small and simple enough
Rowan D Williams, 104th Archbishop of Canterbury
The ACNSlist is published by the Anglican Communion Office, London.
Please send QUESTIONS or COMMENTS to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can subscribe/unsubscribe and get help online at:
Or to unsubscribe send a blank message to email@example.com.
Thank you for your support for the Anglican Communion News Service.
Browse month . . .
Browse month (sort by Source) . . .
Advanced Search & Browse . . .