Dr Rowan Williams urged caring for those hit by the economic downturn.
People should not wait for "larger-than-life" heroes to solve the world's problems, a Christmas sermon by
the Archbishop of Canterbury will say.
Instead Dr Rowan Williams is due to emphasise showing compassion and hope through "small and local gestures".
Speaking at Canterbury Cathedral he is expected to say that one of Christ's lessons was that he did not meet expectations of bringing a golden age.
The Archbishop is due to say: "History will end when God decides."
"The gospel tells us something hard to hear - that there is not going to be a single charismatic leader or a dedicated political campaign or a war to end all wars that will bring the golden age.
"It tells us that history will end when God decides, not when we think we have sorted all our problems out; that we cannot turn the kingdoms of this world into the kingdom of God and his anointed; that we cannot reverse what has happened and restore a golden age."
In highlighting the importance of small expressions of hope and compassion, he will talk about a project that brings together families of victims of violence in the Middle East and a community theatre project in Zimbabwe.
He is due to say: "What can be done to show his glory? So often the answer to this lies in the small and local gestures, the unique difference made in some particular corner of the world."
The Archbishop is also expected to say that the Christmas message is particularly relevant during the economic downturn.
"In the months ahead it will mean in our own country asking repeatedly what is asked of us locally to care for those who bear the heaviest burdens in the wake of our economic crisis - without waiting for the magical solution, let alone the return of the good times."