Monday, December 28, 2009

Rowan Williams at Christmas

The Archbishop of Canterbury preached at Canterbury Cathedral. From here:
Relationship is the new thing at Christmas, the new possibility of being related to God as Jesus was and is. But here's the catch and the challenge. To come into this glorious future is to learn how to be dependent on God. And that word tends to have a chilly feel for us, especially us who are proudly independent moderns. We speak of 'dependent' characters with pity and concern; we think of 'dependency' on drugs and alcohol; we worry about the 'dependent' mind set that can be created by handouts to the destitute. In other words, we think of dependency as something passive and less than free.

But let's turn this round for a moment. If we think of being dependent on the air we breathe, or the food we eat, things look different. Even more if we remind ourselves that we depend on our parents for learning how to speak and act and above all how to love. There is a dependence that is about simply receiving what we need to live; there is a dependence that is about how we learn and grow. And part of our human problem is that we mix up this entirely appropriate and lifegiving dependency with the passivity that can enslave us. In seeking (quite rightly) trying to avoid passivity we can get trapped in the fantasy that we don't need to receive and to learn.

Which is why it matters that our reading portrays the Son in the way it does - radiant, creative, overflowing with life and intelligence. The Son is all these things because he is dependent, because he receives his life from the Father. And when we finally grow up in to the fullness of his life, we shall, like him, be gladly and unashamedly dependent - open to receiving all God has to give, open to learn all he has to teach. This is a 'dependency' that is utterly creative and the very opposite of passive. It is a matter of being aligned with the freest activity we can imagine, God's eternal love, flowing through us.
Sermon Live: Here is the audio of The Archbishop of Canterbury's Christmas Sermon:

Read his sermon here.


1662 BCP said...

Absolute crap! Sissified crap!

Dale Matson said...

"Embracing and celebrating our own dependence gives us the vision and energy to make sure that others have the freedom to make the most of their dependence too."
This is sheer nonsense. One of Thomas Merton's final talks was about standing on our own two feet. that is exactly the opposite of what the ABC is saying.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Merton and the Archbishop both have something of value to say. Perhaps their points are not mutually exclusive.

As for 1662BCP, this constant equivocation and failure to state a position is becoming wearing. At some point he/she should cease hiding in the underbrush of circumlocution and tell us what he really thinks.


Dale Matson said...


Perhaps not.

Rolin said...

Nice little lamb. Pretty little lamb. Come lie down with mama lion.

Br_er Rabbit
(Safely ensconced in the Briar Patch)

Anonymous said...

My comment about Merton was based on my sense that the Archbishop's Nativity references to "dependence" accurately reflect both the incarnate nature of the Christ Child and the triune nature of God. The ABC seems to make a distinction between "creative" dependence on God (which he values) and passivity, which he identifies as a negative. Merton surely was not contradicting any of this. In any event, I fail to see that the Archbishop's Christmas homily (particularly when taken in the Christmas context of the lesson) is undermined by anything of Merton's of which I am aware.

I have commented before that there is abroad in this land a tendency to hop on anything that the Archbishop says or does as an indicator of shortcomings ranging from the eccentric to the heretical. My own preference is for a more studied reaction to a good and God-seeking man in a difficult job. Our first two comments do not seem to ascribe to that kind of patience.