The Most Rev Justin Welby had been due to tell the congregation at Canterbury Cathedral the true spirit of Christmas was not about fairytale endings.
“The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, is suffering from a severe cold and will, with great regret, no longer be preaching the sermon at Canterbury Cathedral this morning,” a Lambeth Palace spokesperson said.
“The Dean of Canterbury, the Very Rev Robert Willis, will deliver a homily.”
The Archbishop had been due to talk about the Christmas truce of 1914 during World War 1, in which soldiers put aside fighting for a day to play football in no man’s land.
“The truce illustrates something of the heart of Christmas, whereby God sends his son, that vulnerable sign of peace, to a weary war-torn world,” he would have said.
“The problem is that the way it is told now it seems to end with a ‘happy ever after’.
“Of course we like Christmas stories with happy endings: singing carols, swapping photos, shaking hands, sharing chocolate, but the following day the war continued with the same severity.
“Nothing had changed; it was a one-day wonder.
“That is not the world in which we live, truces are rare.”