Provincial press releases

Build bridges not walls – Archbishop’s Christmas message

In a divided world and in countries where there is bitterness in the air, we need to be people who build bridges, not walls, says the Archbishop of Wales.

In his Christmas message, Dr Barry Morgan says 2016 has been an “extraordinary” year in which events such as civil war in Syria, the growing refugee crisis, the Brexit vote and election of Donald Trump, show we live in a “brutal, bloody, divided, torn world that seems at times to be out of control and unpredictable”.

God, he says, calls us to respond with tolerance and grace.

The Archbishop says, “In countries such as Britain and America, there is bitterness in the air, about Brexit in the one case and about a president who has come to power despite his appalling remarks about women, people of other faiths, and Mexicans. The Pope came close to saying that Mr Trump could not be a real Christian since Christians were people who built bridges, not walls.

“But the fact is that in spite of all the outrageous revelations about him, Donald Trump was still elected.  What does that say about those who voted for him in a country where most people still claim to be religious?  Yet the Pope is quite right – Christians ought to be people who build bridges, not walls, if any light is to shine at all in our world.  Why?  Because that is the kind of God we believe in and it goes to the heart of the Christmas story.

“God in Jesus reaches out to His world and hopes that it will respond by building bridges not walls, and will live by grace not law.  People in the end have to be persuaded into the Kingdom not browbeaten or forced because that is to adopt the tactics of those who put Jesus to death.

“The challenge of the Gospel in this divided world is the challenge for all of us, of showing such tolerance and grace to people with whose views we may totally disagree, because they are racist, sexist, xenophobic or full of hate.  And we know deep down that grace runs with the grain of the universe because the stories that really touch our hearts are not stories of brutal killings, racial and sexual abuse, and our inhumanity to one another, but stories of love and forgiveness towards those who may not have deserved it –   a mother who forgives her son’s killer, a person who saves another human being from the raging sea even though he does not know him; money raised to prevent starvation and hunger in so many parts of the world.

“And our hearts are touched and moved because we know in the end that those are the values that really matter.  And the resurrection of this baby in a cradle who mixes with undesirables and sinners, offering the hand of friendship to those who don’t deserve it, is actually God’s endorsement that this is the only way to live and love because they are the values of His Kingdom and will ultimately win out.  May God bless us as each of us tries in our small way to live that kind of life.”

The Archbishop will be preaching on Christmas Day at Llandaff Cathedral. The service starts at 11am and all are welcome.