The Archbishop of Canterbury used his Christmas sermon today to celebrate the work of volunteers helping refugees, saying: “The Christmas story shows us how we must treat those who are unlike us.”
The Most Rev Justin Welby preached the sermon at the Christmas Day Eucharist at Canterbury Cathedral.
He said the Christmas story of Joseph and Mary searching for shelter demonstrates the need to treat with compassion those people “who have far less than us, who have lived with the devastating limits of war and national tragedy – those who risk everything to arrive on the beaches”.
He said “there is no doubting” the human capacity to show “great kindness”, and volunteers working to welcome refugees arriving on beaches close to Canterbury Cathedral are “extraordinary people”.
Mr Welby praised rescuers such as the crews of the RNLI, saying: “I saw them the other day, a couple of days back, just getting on with it – five times as many shouts, callouts, as they’ve ever had in the history of the Dover lifeboat, and they do one thing – save life at sea.
“It’s not politics, it’s simply humanity.
“And volunteers today in food banks and other places of comfort and help show this country as it should be, at its best, as we dream of it to be: a beautiful sign of compassion, of generosity, of living out that saying ‘it’s not about me’.”
He referenced the way the pandemic has forced people to confront their “fragility” as never before, adding that vaccines are “amazing”, but ultimately “we can’t vaccinate our mortality away”.
Welby touched on the UK’s efforts to combat climate change, adding: “We have tried to shield ourselves from how limited each of us is – we’ve done that often by our limitless use of the natural world.
“These are actions which have brought the planet into trauma which, despite the initial and vital agreement at Cop26, it is still unclear if we can heal.”