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Hold on to faith and trust in 2024, says Archbishop

Archbishop Linda Nicholls preaching in Christ Church Cathedral, Ottawa.
Archbishop Linda Nicholls speaking at Christ Church Cathedral, Ottawa, on New Year's Day.
By on January 4, 2024
Photography: 
The Ven. Chris Dunn

Keeping up a long-standing tradition, Archbishop Linda Nicholls, Primate of the Anglican Church in Canada, delivered her New Year’s Day homily at Christ Church Cathedral in Ottawa.

She acknowledged that 2023 was a particularly difficult year for many in Canada and around the globe—as people faced lingering concerns about COVID, the worst wildfire season on record in Canada, earthquakes in Turkey, Syria and Japan, and wars around the globe including in Ukraine, Armenia and Israel-Gaza.

Surveying the inequities, injustices, fear, oppression and suffering flourishing, looking ahead into 2024 with hope is a challenge, she said.

Canadians cannot simply just blinker themselves from the suffering elsewhere, Nicholls said. “We live in a global community where a small event in one part of the world is known instantly and ripples through economic and social relationships….What happens to our neighbours—wherever they are in this world—happens to us.”

“The weight of the darkness in our world seems stronger this year. Maybe more so because we believe that human beings are both called and capable of living differently,” she said.

The archbishop spoke of her horror watching the unfolding violence in the Holy Land in places she had visited twice in the past year, including “the bombing of the Al Ahli Anglican hospital, the utter decimation of Gaza and contemplated the bottomless pit of grief for the Jewish community on Oct. 7, reopening the wounds of centuries of antisemitism. I have also heard the calls of Christian leaders in the land of the Holy One and around the world crying out for an end to the violence. … Archbishop Hosam [Naoum of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem] joined the other patriarchs and religious leaders in calling for peace. “As custodians of the Christian faith, deeply rooted in the Holy Land, we stand in solidarity with the people of this region, who are enduring the devastating consequences of continued strife. Our faith, which is founded on the teachings of Jesus Christ, compels us to advocate for the cessation of all violent and military activities that bring harm to both Palestinian and Israeli civilians.”

Christians, she said, “live by a faith rooted in an understanding of being human in relationship with God that offers another way….To some it seems like a naïve way—even simplistic—yet it is rooted in a wisdom stronger than death. It begins in the love of the Creator for all humankind in its fullness. …This love is not naïve about human nature, for God faced the depth of human capacity for cruelty in the death of Jesus—and “did not strike back but overcame hatred with love” (to quote one of our eucharistic prayers). God offers us a path through the darkness of human betrayal and sin—our own and others’—and offers life again and again and again.”

“That,” Nicholls said, “is how we face a new year. Not in denial of the pain and suffering—but in the knowledge that even the deepest darkness of human evil cannot overcome the love of God.”

The archbishop said she finds hope in small gestures of human kindness and sacrifice, “Jesus and all who follow him give the world signs that another way is possible.” She added that one of the gifts of being the primate is the opportunity to travel and see the ways Anglicans are bringing hope.

The examples she offered included a Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund project in Kenya that helps build shallow wells in a drought-stricken region that give those nearby cleaner water for their farms, animals and homes; supports training and microloans for small dairy farmers…and helps provide funds for children to go to school.

In Canada, she met lay Anglicans sustaining worship and outreach through food banks, soup kitchens and community ministries in the dioceses of Yukon and Caledonia.

As we enter this new year of 2024, Nicholls said, “let us hold firm to the hope of the gospel with faith and trust God’s infinite love and mercy and—like Mary—respond with a continuing ‘yes’ to God’s call.”

She concluded with the blessing:

The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

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