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Neglecting society’s weakest defies example of Christ, says Archbishop of Canterbury

Justin Welby used his Christmas Day sermon to reflect on the impact of violence at home and abroad.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby during the Christmas Day service at Canterbury Cathedral (Steve Parsons/PA)
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby during the Christmas Day service at Canterbury Cathedral (Steve Parsons/PA)

By PA Reporters

Judging “those different to ourselves” and neglecting the poor and the weak defies the example of Jesus Christ, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

Justin Welby used his Christmas Day sermon to reflect on the maltreatment of society’s most vulnerable, as well as the impact of violence at home and abroad, including the London Bridge terror attack last month.

He told worshippers at Canterbury Cathedral that darkness is a “monster that lies” before referring to the killings of 25-year-old Jack Merritt and 23-year-old Saskia Jones by Usman Khan.

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The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby meets parishioners outside the cathedral (Steve Parsons/PA)

During his address, the archbishop also spoke about his trip to Beni, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has suffered an outbreak of the Ebola virus.

He said: “Darkness is a monster that lies.

“Its growling claims seem to call out with a louder volume than the love-filled whispers of light. We see the shadows out of the corner of our eyes.

“They may be violence, as in the Congo or on London Bridge; they may be political.

“They may be purely personal, from family feuds, relationship problems, illness.

“The darkness within us that sometimes seems to threaten our certainty and hope. And whether solid or illusion, they are the reality with which we live.”

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The Archbishop of Canterbury shakes hands with the congregation (Steve Parsons/PA)

Mr Welby also highlighted that the message of Jesus Christ was first revealed to the poorest, adding: “He did not come to the wealthy”.

The spiritual leader of the Church of England went on: “In the presence of the light of Jesus Christ, dark is ultimately powerless. Light is all around us, invisible, untouchable.

“Dark presses in on our deep fears. Its reality is manipulated by those who stir fear for their own purposes, both within and outside the life of the church.

“It was to the poorest that the first testimony of Jesus came, to shepherds on a hill, in the angel-broken dark. It was to Jesus’s own poor family that the rich Magi came, knowing that the light of Christ was the only hope that had reality.

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The view from the choir to the nave at Canterbury Cathedral (Steve Parsons/PA)

“When we neglect the poor, the weak, when we judge those different to ourselves rather than love, when we do things to people – not with them – we defy the example of the light of life, Jesus himself, who in love came to them, with the poorest and most vulnerable.

“He did not come to the wealthy. The true light that is Jesus brings hope.

“Receive his light; it is there to be received. Feast on life and love, even when all else is dark and grey.

“And so, being filled with the hope of Christ, let us as God’s people show the dark that its pretensions are vain, for the true light has come into the world.”

PA

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