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Archbishop reflects on suffering in the world

The Archbishop of York asked people to reflect on the "suffering in our world" as he delivered his Christmas sermon today.

John Sentamu included the parents of missing girl Madeleine McCann and the family of chef Claudia Lawrence during his speech at York Minster.

The victims of suicide bombings, the "downtrodden" of Zimbabwe, the armed forces and people affected by the economic downturn were all referred to in his sermon.

The Archbishop referred to Psalm 98 in which "the entire world of creation is summoned to sing, play and dance the new song to the Lord".

"This new song is a universal song, not the property of some exclusive part of our world. And since the entire world is invited to sing this new song, singers of this new song acknowledge the ever-adorable God," he said.

"All are summoned to praise and worship God 'in the beauty of holiness'.

"The Psalm proclaims that, from whatever viewpoint we think of God, he is infinitely desirable, glorious and worthy of our adoration."

He told the congregation: "With joy in our response to God's message of deliverance, let us leave the Minster this morning in a pure state, confident of our future in God's plan.

"And then go and be God's new song: to the parents of Madeleine McCann, Claudia Lawrence; the downtrodden of Zimbabwe; the children and women brutalised in Eastern Congo, and Darfur; the people who are losing their lives violently through suicide bombings in Afghanistan and Iraq; prisoners of conscience; Israel and Palestine; our armed forces; the children in our own country who suffer at the hands of those who should care for them; those who have lost their jobs, savings, pensions, homes, due to the credit crunch, the economic downturn and the outworking of the cuts in public expenditure; the hungry, the homeless, the sick, the housebound, and the suffering in our world.

"Drawing them all into the circle of the God who 'so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish, but have eternal life'."