Violence, injustice and greed are the main threats to humanity right now - and a radical chnage of heart and mind is needed to address them. That was the message from Christmas sermons delivered yesterday by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York.
The two Church of England leaders, who are also key players on the world church scene, chose to emphaises the giving epitomised by the coming of Christ with the grabbing that all too often charcterises human behaviour, among both the religious and the non-religious.
Dr Rowan Williams, who through the See of Canterbury is also spiritual head of the world's 78 million Anglicans, highlighted "human greed" in his Christmas address, saying that it threatened the earth's fragile environmental balance.
The Archbishop told worshippers at Canterbury Cathedral, in south-east England, that humanity needed to protect the world given to us by God through myriad natural processes. Instead, people needed to learn to treat each other and creation with "reverence", he declared.
Dr Williams said: "More and more (is) clearly required of us as we grow in awareness of how fragile is the balance of species and environments in the world and just how our greed distorts it."
He continued: "When we threaten the balance of things, we don't just put our material survival at risk; more profoundly we put our spiritual sensitivity at risk -- the possibility of being opened up to endless wonder by the world around us."
The Archbishop also stressed the need to respect others and praised "brave and loving people" in Israel and Palestine, inspite of the division and violence they faced.
"The delight and reverence we should have towards the things of creation is intensified many times where human relationships are concerned," he added.
Dr Williams said that "if peace is to be more than a pause in open conflict, it must be grounded in this passionate amazed reverence for others.
"In today's Bethlehem, still ravaged by fear and violence," he noted, "we can still meet the God who has made human tears his own and still works ceaselessly for his purpose of peace and rejoicing, through the witness of brave and loving people on both sides of the dividing wall."
Meanwhile the Archbishop of York, the second most senior cleric in the Church of England, said injustices throughout the world were examples of God being "violated and blasphemed".
Outspoken Ugandan-born Dr John Sentamu went on to urge support for those who were struggling across the world.
He said: "In the killing, raping and looting fields of Darfur; in the broken nation and a broken people of Zimbabwe who have been force-fed with injustice and can swallow no more; for the unreconciled children of Abraham in the Middle East - the Palestinians without a viable state they can call home and Israelis hungry for peace and security; for the refugees, the homeless and people caught up in human trafficking ... God is being violated and blasphemed."