The Anglican Archbishop of Wales believes that the Occupy movement is embodying concerns which ought to be central to the Christian message.
In his Christmas Day sermon, to be delivered on the morning of 25 December, he suggests that St Paul's Cathedral got it wrong in its initial response to the Occupy protesters camped outside on their doorstep - but that it is possible and necessary for Christians and others to turn round and head in a new direction.
Dr Barry Morgan says that the initial reaction of the cathedral officials to take legal action against the Occupy protesters gave the “unfortunate impression that what was happening inside the cathedral had very little to do with what was happening outside it”.
“People could have drawn the conclusion from that, that the worship of God has no connection with the world or its concerns because God is literally and metaphorically above it,” he declares.
Dr Morgan argues that God does not need to be protected or guarded, and that rejecting the protesters would make the church no different from the religious leaders of Jesus’ time, who tried to separate God and worship from anything deemed “unworthy”.
He continues: “[I]t is precisely this view of God’s holiness that Jesus shattered. He spent most of his ministry out of doors, not in synagogues or temples but preaching to ordinary people, attempting to relate ordinary everyday events to God."
Jesus “replaced the core value of purity with compassion” because he “regarded compassion not holiness as God’s dominant quality”, he adds. “He criticised the system that emphasised purity and neglected justice. So Jesus touched lepers and haemorrhaging women and mixed with poor people and outcasts."
“Whereas purity divided and excluded, compassion united and included,” Dr Morgan points out,
Jesus’ prayer that God’s will should be done on earth as it is in heaven - the Lord's Prayer - does not only mean changing individual lives alone, but also challenging structures of society and the world, and “overturning poverty, injustice and oppression”.
“Paradoxically, it is the Occupy Movement which has reminded us that in Jesus, the view of God as a holy set-apart God, has been shattered forever, in the birth in a cowshed and death on a cross,” the Welsh Archbishop concludes.