In his Christmas sermon at Llandaff Cathedral, the Anglican Archbishop of Wales has said that the pressure of modern life towards perfection can be humanly oppressive. What is needed instead is solidarity.
The Most Rev Barry Morgan contrasted the desire for getting things absolutely right with the vulnerable reality of Christ’s birth - God's willingness to embrace mess and imperfection.
“Christmas is not about perfection, viewed either from the human or divine perspective,” he declared.
“It is not about a baby, born in pristine condition, into a perfect world. It is about God in Christ coming into a messy world, precisely because it is all messed up.
“And the trouble with us is that we are so hooked on looking for perfection, that we are in danger of failing to understand the true significance of this feast.”
While much in contemporary culture emphasises success and perfection, the Archbishop said Jesus focussed on people’s imperfections and spent his time with those in pain, suffering, doubt and grief.
He told his congregation that God was with still with the afflicted today, including those in war zones or facing the dole queue.
“Christmas is not about escapism into some perfect world – it is about the real world, God dealing with the world as it is where so much is wrong, where there is so much pain, suffering and anguish," said Morgan.
He continued: “God loves the world in all its brokenness – the awfulness of unresolved conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan; the desperation of Zimbabweans as they struggle against a tyrannical President; the trauma of all affected by the atrocities at Mumbai, the despair of the Congo on the brink of civil war; the hardship faced by many poor people because of the credit crunch.”
The Archbishop concluded: “God, of course, cannot wave a magic wand and make it all go away but what he does is to come among us as he did in Jesus and assures us that he shoulders our burdens alongside us."
“[God] is to be found amidst the poor, marginalised and distressed, supporting and upholding them with love. Through Jesus, [God] shows us and reminds us of what it is like to be truly human, living out a life of compassion, solidarity and love and refusing to use the weapons of retaliation and force.
“Through Jesus, [God] also shows us what divine love is like committed to this imperfect world and struggling to put it right.”