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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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BBC Radio 2 'Pause for Thought' - Chris Evans' Breakfast Show

Wednesday 1st December 2010

Dr Rowan Williams, The Archbishop of Canterbury, offers a Christmas message to listeners of Chris Evans' Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 2.

The Archbishop said:

It's around now that Advent calendars start appearing – open a door every day and there's a new scene to see; and usually these days a new chocolate to eat!  It's one of the few things that still survive from the traditional run-up to Christmas, the old four-week period of preparation.

And it's interesting that it's tied up with this thing about opening doors, being surprised.  I think that one of the really important things about this pre-Christmas period should be getting in touch again with excitement and surprise.  Christmas ought to be about surprises, welcome surprises.  It's a shame if it becomes – as it often does – a bit of a grim duty, all the shopping to do and the cards to write and so on.  But Advent calendars give us a kind of nudge to say 'Look: this world is more than you thought.  Under the surface, there can be wonderful things, new things to find out about yourself and each other and the whole world you live in'.

We're most alive when we're discovering new and astonishing things about each other – it's what happens when people fall in love, of course, which is why love is for most of us the thing that more than anything else makes us feel alive.  And for Christians this Advent period of getting ready for Christmas is getting ready to discover new things about God – remembering the surprise that everybody felt at the first Christmas.  God showed his love in a new way with the birth of Jesus, and people were amazed at this – and started falling in love with God.

It's worth trying, in the run-up to Christmas, to ask if we really want to discover new things – or whether we're just in a rut, trapped by duty, weighed down by boredom. Because if we really are ready for a surprise, God's ready to tell us at Christmas that there's more to him than we thought – and more to us and our neighbours as well.   

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