Archbishop speaks of vaccine hope after ‘year of anxiety’ in Christmas sermon

The year 2020 has been likened to walking through “the valley of the shadow of death” by the Archbishop of Canterbury, as he used his Christmas sermon to praise schools and hospitals for bringing hope during the pandemic.

During the socially-distanced Christmas Day Eucharist at Canterbury Cathedral in Kent, the Most Rev Justin Welby told masked worshippers how a cough has turned into a “genuine threat” in a “year of anxiety”.

Despite the Christmas of absence, he said there is hope in the vaccine and described the recent trade deal between the UK Government and the EU as a Christmas gift.

Archbishop of Canterbury
Members of the congregation wore masks during the service (Garether Fuller/PA)

He said: “2020 has been for so many the darkness of Covid, of economic crisis, of climate emergency, evils of racism, of war, genocide and persecution.

“For billions around the world 2020 has been a year walking through the valley of the shadow of death.”

He added: “The vaccine is a gift of hope. Our sense of community and mutual care has changed so much.

Archbishop of Canterbury
The Archbishop of Canterbury wore protective gloves and a face mask during the service (Gareth Fuller/PA)

“Notwithstanding the politics or recent history, or the sadness or rejoicing of different groups over Brexit, the capacity of governments to find a way forward in relations after Brexit is a Christmas gift.”

The archbishop, who wore protective gloves and a face mask for part of the service, referred to the “coming of light” that has brought hope during previous major events.

“As much as we may currently be tempted to imagine this virus as the pivot of our lives – before Covid and after Covid – the pivot for every life, for human history is in fact the coming of the light of Christ,” he said.

Worshippers socially distanced at Christmas Day service
Worshippers during the Christmas Day service at Canterbury Cathedral in Kent (Gareth Fuller/PA)

“It is this light of Christ that offers abundant life that scatters fear and brings hope in a time of Covid, of economic trauma, of war.

“We see that light in the food banks of Dover, in those helping across every part of Kent, where amidst much struggle people are cared for by local government and by volunteers.

“We see that light in the hospitals where people offer their life and their future, in the schools looking to the long-term hopes of the next generation.”

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