While noting the quiet behind-the-scenes work of volunteers and workers who help society, often from Christian churches and other faith groups, the departing Archbishop of Canterbury asked viewers of his final televised New Year's message to open up to the "deepest secret of all," that the universe is being held together by the "unfailing generosity of God."
The Rev. Dr. Rowan Williams, who is making way for his successor The Rt. Rev. Justin Welby, used the address which aired on the BBC to draw viewers' attention to the work of people who help out in society or provide services while not forgetting "just what a huge percentage of them come from the churches and other faith groups."
"How very good that people like that are there for us, we can say – but as soon as we've said that, we should be prompted to ask the tougher question: what can I do to join this silent conspiracy of generous dedication? There'll be those who have time and skill and strength to offer; there'll be those who have less of these, but can support in prayer and good will," he said.
As an example he cited the work of the London-based 'The Robes Project,' where more than twenty local churches work together to offer food and shelter to homeless people.
"Religion here isn't a social problem or an old-fashioned embarrassment, it's a wellspring of energy and a source of life-giving wisdom for how people should be regarded and treated," he said.
The segment also shows the Archbishop visiting the Salmon Youth Centre in London where workers and volunteers serve young people through athletic facilities in a modern building. The organization has its roots in the efforts of an early 20th century pastor seeking to serve London's inner city working classes with the help of a group of evangelical Christians.
"We serve the young people in this community because we want to see Jesus' name lifted high," said one worker at the center in the Archbishop's video. "It's just an opportunity for them to begin to explore what faith means in terms of living it out in the real world."
To start off the video the Archbishop referred to the volunteers at this summer's Olympic Games in London, as a way to "make us think a bit harder about all the other folk who quietly, often invisibly, turn vision into reality and just make things happen."
"And as we think about this silent groundswell, perhaps our minds can begin to open up to the deepest secret of all – the trust that the entire universe is held together by the quiet, unfailing generosity of God," he said. "What we see and grasp isn't the whole story – but just occasionally we can get a glimpse. I hope there will be lots of joyful glimpses like that for you in the year ahead."