Gordon Brown professes to 'put Christ back into Christmas’
Cranmer has received news of reception over the Christmas period held at Number 10, which was described by the Prime Minister as an opportunity ‘to celebrate all the good things that Christians have done in the country and around the world’.
All the good things? In one brief evening? Without the Archbishop of Canterbury?
He must have been busy walking by on the other side.
Cranmer was not invited, but there were 70 Christian leaders from across the denominations, and the gathering was hailed by Dawn Butler MP as a chance ‘to put Christ back into Christmas’.
It is a pity she did not realise he was out on the cold streets of London feeding the hungry and giving hope to the homeless and destitute.
The opening prayer was given by Evangelical the Revd Nicky Gumbel, founder of the Alpha Course.
Was there no Anglican bishop available (or invited) to open the proceedings? Why has Nicky Gumbel been elevated to such an ecclesial status that Number 10 grants him the prestigious honour of invoking the Lord’s blessing upon the gathered élite?
Stephen Timms MP, Financial Secretary to the Treasury (who is particularly grateful for the Revd Nicky Gumbel’s tax returns) made particular mention of the ‘Hope ’08’ initiative. “It has lived up to its name,” he said: “not a wishy-washy, maybe-everything-will-get-better kind of hope, but a down-to-earth, sleeves-rolled-up, practical-action kind of hope”.
That’s good then. Cranmer has little time for ‘wishy-washy, maybe-everything-will-get-better kind of hope’, and wonders then why the Prime Minister keeps harping on about it.
Gordon Brown apparently arrived late (as he is wont to do), but when he finally appeared, he reiterated his belief in ‘the values at the centre of Christianity, and the values at the centre of other religions, that we are responsible for each other’.
It is just a pity that those values do not permeate his legislative programme.
He spoke of his most moving recollection from the year: the last words of a young child to his mother, recorded in the genocide museum in Rwanda: “The United Nations are coming.” This was the challenge to everyone of faith: to work towards a truly global society.
The United Nations are coming?
God help us.
The Roman Catholic Bishop of Wrexham, the Rt Revd Edwin Regan, gave the closing blessing.
The Bishop of Rochester must have been unavailable.
Or perhaps his presence might have put too much Christ into the Prime Minister's Christmas.