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This is an archived website containing material relating to Dr Rowan Williams’ time as Archbishop of Canterbury, which ended on 31st December 2012

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Archbishop on 'Pause for Thought' - Terry Wogan BBC Radio 2

Monday 19th December 2005

A Christmas message from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams.

I always find at about this point before Christmas that I seem to be getting a lot of cards from people I've forgotten to send cards to. You know the sort of thing – 'Who's this one from? Frank and Gladys? No, I think it's Peter and Sylvia. Oh no, we didn't send one to them. And didn't they move two years ago? And where did I put the new address? And anyway it's past the last date for posting...'

One of the little trials of the pre-Christmas season. But why do we - or why do I, anyway - worry quite so much about this? Of course I don't want my friends to think I'm rude or something. But I suspect we feel at a bit of a disadvantage. Someone's given us something, and we feel we have to keep our end up, otherwise we're in their debt and that feels uncomfortable. When we were in Pakistan a couple of weeks ago, we were so weighed down with generous gifts that we could hardly get on the plane coming back – and we felt a bit awkward about handing out the rather modest little presents we'd brought.

But actually this is one thing I find Christmas helps me with. The story we tell at Christmas is about a gift so enormous that we could never keep our end up or pay it back, the gift of a complete love and forgiveness that we haven't earned or deserved and never could. It's God's gift. Don't even think about finding something equivalent to give in return. Just be glad to be loved like that. It might even help with the Christmas card from Peter and Sylvia and the lost addresses. They think you're worth bothering with; just be glad of it.

© Rowan Williams 2005

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