By Ed Thornton, Church Times

CHRISTMAS sermons expressed concern at social divisions; and the Queen’s broadcast focused on the reconciliatory power of forgiveness.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, preaching in Canterbury Cathedral on Christmas Day, spoke of a society where “bonds have been broken, trust abused and lost”. Society was “much the poorer” for forgetting the 1662 Prayer Book, which “gives us words that say where and who we are before God”.

Dr Williams said that the Prayer Book had “defined what a whole society said to God together. . . If you thumb through the Prayer Book, you may be surprised at how much there is that takes for granted a very clear picture of how we behave with each other.”

Dr Williams continued: “The most pressing question we now face, we might well say, is who and where we are as a society. Bonds have been broken, trust abused and lost. Whether it is an urban rioter mind­lessly burning down a small shop that serves his community, or a speculator turning his back on the question of who bears the ultimate cost for his acquisitive adventures in the virtual reality of today’s financial world, the picture is of atoms spin­ning apart in the dark.

“And into that dark the Word of God has entered, in love and judg­ment, and has not been overcome; in the darkness the question sounds as clear as ever, to each of us and to our Church and our society: ‘Britain, where are you?’ Where are the words we can use to answer?”

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