Rowan Williams: 'It is not death itself that should be the focus of fear'

From the sermon by the Archbishop of Canterbury at St Paul's Cathedral yesterday to commemorate the victims of the July 7 bombings in London
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The Independent Online

Yet we have some abiding sense that death, even violent and untimely death, cannot destroy our relationships at the most important level; that love is indeed, as the Bible says, strong as death.

No, it is not death itself that should be the focus of fear.

Rather, we should be afraid of losing just that passionate conviction about the beauty and dignity of each unique person that brings us here today.

We should be afraid of losing the thing that, above all else, sets faith, humanity, civilisation apart from the mind and the world of the terrorist.

Jesus tells us not to fear those who can destroy the body, but those who can destroy body and soul; and part of the sickness of spirit we feel when confronted with terrorism is that we face people whose souls are damaged, almost destroyed.

It shows us what we can rightly fear - a world, a mind, caught up in terrible untruth, in a rejection of God's creation of diversity and unique beauty.

To say that this is a tragic and pitiable fate is not at all to take away from the condemnation that terrorist violence deserves.

But today is not an occasion for us to focus on fear.

What most matters is that we celebrate two things.

First and most simply, we celebrate those we love, whose lives have been terribly damaged, and especially those whose lives have been cut short - but who are remembered in their separate, unique beauty, who remain with us and in us, and who are infinitely precious to God our creator and redeemer.

Second, we give thanks that we live in a climate where the value and dignity of each person is still taken for granted; and we renew our resolution not to let this heritage be cheapened or abandoned in any way.

God does not forget the smallest of his creatures.

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