By any measure this Millennium year has been an
unforgettable one. Since the turn of the year it has been
celebrated and marked in this country and throughout the
Commonwealth, and it has been a particular pleasure for
me to visit Millennium projects large and small which will
be reminders for generations to come of the time when
the twenty-first century began.
But as this year draws to a close I would like to reflect
more directly and more personally on what lies behind all
the celebrations of these past twelve months.
Christmas is the traditional, if not the actual, birthday of a
man who was destined to change the course of our history. And today we are
celebrating the fact that Jesus Christ was born two thousand years ago; this is
the true Millennium anniversary.
The simple facts of Jesusí life give us little clue as to the influence he was to
have on the world. As a boy he learnt his fatherís trade as a carpenter. He
then became a preacher, recruiting twelve supporters to help him. But his
ministry only lasted a few years and he himself never wrote anything down. In
his early thirties he was arrested, tortured and crucified with two criminals. His
death might have been the end of the story, but then came the resurrection
and with it the foundation of the Christian faith.
Even in our very material age the impact of Christís life is all around us. If you
want to see an expression of Christian faith you have only to look at our aweinspiring
cathedrals and abbeys, listen to their music, or look at their stained
glass windows, their books and their pictures.
But the true measure of Christís influence is not only in the lives of the saints
but also in the good works quietly done by millions of men and women day in
and day out throughout the centuries.
Many will have been inspired by Jesusí simple but powerful teaching: love
God and love thy neighbour as thyself - in other words, treat others as you
would like them to treat you. His great emphasis was to give spirituality a
Whether we believe in God or not, I think most of us have a sense of the
spiritual, that recognition of a deeper meaning and purpose in our lives, and I
believe that this sense flourishes despite the pressures of our world.
This spirituality can be seen in the teachings of other great faiths. Of course
religion can be divisive, but the Bible, the Koran and the sacred texts of the
Jews and Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs, are all sources of divine inspiration
and practical guidance passed down through the generations.
To many of us our beliefs are of fundamental importance. For me the
teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide a
framework in which I try to lead my life. I, like so many of you, have drawn
great comfort in difficult times from Christís words and example.
I believe that the Christian message, in the words of a familiar blessing,
remains profoundly important to us all:
"Go forth into the world in peace,
be of good courage,
hold fast that which is good,
render to no man evil for evil,
strengthen the faint-hearted,
support the weak,
help the afflicted,
honour all men."
It is a simple message of compassion and yet as powerful as ever today,
two thousand years after Christís birth.
I hope this day will be as special for you as it is for me. May I wish you all a
very Happy Christmas.
Full transcript of HM. The Queen's 2000 Christmas Message