Archbishop: Let the light of hope and peace shine in places disfigured by war this Christmas

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Archbishop John Wilson took some time after leading the annual carol service in Southwark’s St George’s Cathedral on Wednesday 13 December, to offer a short reflection highlighting how we can all be bridgebuilders for peace as we look forward to the coming of Christ this Christmas.


Dear friends, some of you may know that I’m a great lover of Christmas cribs. And I have in my sitting room a small olive wood carving of Our Lady, Saint Joseph and the baby Jesus. It’s carved beautifully, all in one piece. It’s very precious to me because it was given to me by Father Abusada, who founded the School of Joy in Bethlehem, which looks after children from different backgrounds and religious faiths who experience learning difficulties, some of whom find challenge and their families find it difficult to look after them.

It’s Bethlehem and the Holy Land that are in our thoughts. We pray for the light of hope to shine in the Holy Land, for a lasting peace in the homeland of the Lord Jesus. And we pray for that same light of hope and of peace to shine in Ukraine to bring an end to the conflict. We pray for an end to violence in Sudan and Syria, and in every country, in every place disfigured by the destruction of war.

Dear friends, in Advent, as we move towards Christmas, we look to the Prince of Peace. We prepare our hearts and our homes, our minds, our souls, our bodies, our lives for his coming. We can build peace, each of us, by loving the next person we meet, by praying for peace and by trying to love everyone. It may sound too much, but start by loving one. Isn’t this what it really means to learn the lesson of the Christmas School of Joy?