Archbishop of Canterbury - Christians should stand for hope in conflict
Christian’s communities in the middle of conflict need to stand for hope, forgiveness, and reconciliation, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said. During a visit to Sri Lanka, Archbishop Williams told a packed congregation in the cathedral church of Christ the King in Kurunegala that Christians have to feed those around them by bringing hope:
‘When we find ourselves in the middle of conflict, of suffering, and even of despair, we as Christians have to say ‘we have food to give’. And the food that we have to give is the promise that forgiveness is possible, that reconciliation is possible’.
Trust has to be built through generosity and service, he said:
‘Communities begin to change when people see one another as those who may give them hope, not those who make them afraid. Often individuals look at one another and say to one another 'you are going to take my life away', but a community that has heard the good news that God gives is a community where people look at one another and say ‘you are going to help me live’.
‘Real peace comes not only when people have stopped fighting, it comes when people have learnt to look each other with hope and expectation. It happens when I can turn to a person of another race, another faith, another party 'I need what you have to give, help me to live’
This, he said, was the key to the promise given to Abraham. ‘God says to Abraham ‘because of you every community in the world will be blessed’, may that be said of us. So let us allow ourselves to be fed by God day by day, may God give us the strength and the courage to feed one another, to build each other up in hope, and may God give us the strength to build up the whole of our society and community with the same hope, the same power of forgiveness’
Archbishop of Canterbury - ‘World too small for conflict’
The world is too small for conflict, the Archbishop has told a congregation in Colombo, Sri Lanka. More that 2000 people gathered in the cathedral church of St Mary in Sri Lanka's capital to hear Archbishop Williams say that despite more efficient communication, divisions across the globe are increasing.
‘The fact is that in our age we seem in many ways to be growing further apart; racial prejudice, national pride, the division of class and wealth, become greater all the time, not less. In this global village the larger and wealthier houses become larger and wealthier all the time, and the hovels of the poor become poorer. In this global village when we are all supposed to be closer to each other we have found more and more ways of retreating into our own corners, fighting for our own territory’.
Archbishop Williams told the congregation of clergy (including some who had travelled from the troubled areas of the north and the east), lay workers, community and diplomatic representatives, and representatives of other faith communities, that the situation in Sri Lanka demonstrated this.
‘In this global village it seems very difficult to have any sense that we inhabit together the small territory that is given to us. You know all about that in this island. A small island, divided by bitter enmities, by violence and abuses, so easy to say 'the future must be ours and only ours, and not for them. The future must be for us and not for the others.' In this small island the churches of Christ and the other communities of faith continue to witness to a hope that is greater than that, to the hope that the communities of this island will be able to say 'without you I can do nothing…' that the communities of this island will be able to look at one another in hope and not in fear.’
Fear, caused by such divisions, have terrible consequences and could only be overcome by trust:
‘The whole world is a territory which we must learn to live in together, with a shared ownership, a shared responsibility. It is not only this island or my own island that is too small for conflict, the world is too small for conflict and out modern communications and technology should be teaching not how easy it is to spread the messages of fear and paranoia and hatred; it should be teaching us that we can grow into a common language, a common vision, a common responsibility’.
Talking and listening across the divides were vital responsibilities which the churches and others should ensure:
‘We must keep our bridges in good repair, the bridges for listening and sympathy, hearing the truth from one another, learning what the other's experience is like. And as we do that we shall find, so God promises us, that there is a blessing even from the stranger. We meet this morning in the knowledge and the hope of that communion and community. We commit ourselves afresh to that vision of remaining with one another as Christians, as human beings, as citizens of this country. We commit ourselves to a communion in which we are all nourishing and serving the humanity of each other in which we will not let one another go until God has blessed us’.
Items from: Lambeth Palace