01/01/2013 Archbishop of Canterbury's New Year Message


01/01/2013

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, delivers his annual New Year message for the final time before stepping down from the role after 10 years in office.


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Transcript


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Whenever I make a broadcast like this one,

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I'm acutely aware of the gap between what I'm seeing here

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and what you're looking at at home.

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You see me now sitting quietly in my study.

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What I'm seeing is a small crowd

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of wonderfully expert and efficient technicians doing the filming,

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meticulously checking the pictures and the sound.

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What we see happening

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is only a small part of what's going on in order to make it happen.

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And this last year,

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we had a chance to notice this for once in a very vivid way.

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The extraordinary events of the Olympics and Paralympics last summer

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provided an unforgettable spectacle.

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But everyone who visited the Olympic site or watched the broadcasts

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would have been made aware of the army of volunteers

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who cheerfully gave up their free time

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and worked away without complaint all hours of the day and night

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to make these great events happen.

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They were the key people

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who translated the Olympic vision into reality for the rest of us.

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It ought to make us think a bit harder

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about all the other folk who quietly, often invisibly,

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turn vision into reality and just make things happen,

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especially volunteers.

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Stephen, was it?

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Here at the Robes Project, over 20 local churches are combining

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to offer food and shelter to homeless people in London.

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It's the face-to-face contact, actually feeling

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that there is something that you are able to give of yourself

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rather than just from your wallet.

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They're just like you and me.

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I mean, having been made redundant,

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I could have been made homeless myself, so...

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Religion here isn't a social problem or an old-fashioned embarrassment,

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it's a wellspring of energy and a source of life-giving vision

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for how people should be regarded and treated.

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So let's recognise this steady current of generosity

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that underlies so much of our life together in this country

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and indeed worldwide.

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It's all based on one vision, to make our society, our whole world,

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work for everyone,

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not just the comfortable and well off.

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And it's a vision that sometimes seems to need

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Olympic levels of patient hard work and dedication.

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Are we going to win this one?

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If you have the good fortune

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to live in a community where things seem to be working well,

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the chances are that if you slip backstage,

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you'll find an army of cheerful people making the wheels go round.

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And don't forget just what a huge percentage of them

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come from the churches and other faith groups.

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We serve the young people in this community

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because we want to see Jesus's name lifted high.

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It's just an opportunity for them to begin to explore

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what faith means in terms of living it out in our real world.

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So it's a kind of counterweight to some of the peer pressures

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-that they'll be experiencing.

-Yeah, absolutely.

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And I would say that a lot of young people would bring their friends here

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because of the positive influence that they've had here.

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"How very good that people like that are there for us," we can say.

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But as soon as we've said that,

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we should be prompted to ask the tougher question -

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-"What can

-I

-do

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"to join this silent conspiracy of generous dedication?"

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There will be those who have time and skill and strength to offer.

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There will be those who have less of these,

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but can support in prayer and goodwill.

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And as we think about this silent groundswell,

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perhaps our minds can begin to open up to the deepest secret of all.

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The trust that the entire universe is held together

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by the quiet, unfailing generosity of God.

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What we see and grasp isn't the whole story.

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But just occasionally, we can get a glimpse.

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I hope there will be lots of joyful glimpses like that for you

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in the year ahead.

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Every blessing and happiness for the coming year.

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