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Dr Rowan Williams: How to have a Good Christmas

Light from Light:

1,500 people came to St Paul’s Cathedral to hear Rowan Williams speak about the meanings of Christmas, and how we can reclaim it for our Christian spiritual lives.

Dr Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, began his talk on 8 December 2015 by saying there are three kinds of Christmas carol:

1 Isn’t it cold? Let’s have a jolly time; 2 Isn’t the baby sweet! and a third kind - full of disturbing, difficult, incomprehensible theology. He said he knew we’d be delighted that it was the third kind he’d come to talk about.

View the photos from the evening here

Dr Williams, Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge,  spoke of the outpouring of God’s love at Christmas ‘boiling over from eternity into time’ because God’s very nature is to share life: ‘There is nothing of God that is not sharing, not giving’.  

Not that this begins at Christmas, but ‘we celebrate a birth which is the beginning of God being with us in a new way; this is not the beginning of God being God, but the beginning of God being like this in our hearts and minds’.

If we take the story of Christmas seriously, ‘We ought to be looking with speechless amazement at every human face; God thought this face, this person, was worth everything. God thinks there is no gift or risk too great to bring full life and joy to this person.

This 'is probably the hardest thing in the Christian faith to accept or understand’.

Answering questions chaired by Mark Oakley, Canon Chancellor of St Paul’s, Dr Williams offered suggestions about how we might keep Christmas as Christians, and also revealed what is his favourite carol – and the ones he most dreads.

View the film of Rowan Williams’ talk at St Paul’s Cathedral here

This event is part of St Paul’s Adult Learning programme, exploring Christian spirituality, life and ethics.