Syosset, New York
Christ is born! Glorify Him!
To the Very Reverend and Reverend Clergy, Venerable Monastics, and Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America
Dearly Beloved in the Lord:
God is with us! Understand this, O nations, and submit yourselves, for God is with us!
As we celebrate the wondrous birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ, it is fitting for us to reflect on His mission as the long-awaited Messiah, the only-begotten Son of God, and the Savior of the world.
We often hear discussions in the public forum about faith and values. Many voices have called for a return to a vision of life based on principles that, for centuries, have been at the very heart of our society. While these principles offer hope in a world filled with uncertainty, the question must be asked: “what faith” and “whose values” are we called to appropriate into our lives as Orthodox Christians?
The good news that Christ proclaimed was indeed a call to faith—not in a “concept” or an “ideology,” but in a person, in the One Whom Saint Peter professed to be “the Son of the Living God.” And the values He embodied, summarized in His challenge to love God above all else and to love our neighbor as ourselves, are neither “theory” nor “humanitarian causes” to be championed by people of faith-based principles. Rather, they are the fruits of a life lived in faith in Jesus Christ as the Lord and Master of our lives.
The period of history into which Our Lord was born, like our own, was filled with uncertainty. While the Roman Empire had proclaimed that peace had descended upon the world, it was an uncertain peace at best, one rooted not in divine faith and values, but in legal decrees and pronouncements. Into this seemingly tranquil yet highly charged setting the Prince of Peace entered, silently and in all humility. As we sing in the Nativity hymns, He made the cave His palace, the manger His throne. The simple shepherds and the dumb beasts worshipped Him, while the angels glorified Him in song. Yet the rulers of the world came to fear Him, because He revealed that mankind’s faith was to be focused on Him alone, and that the values, the way of life of which He was the supreme example, was rooted in a Kingdom that was “not of this world.”
Today, as perhaps never before in our lifetimes, we are challenged to put our faith in the newborn Divine Child of Bethlehem into action, to live as Our Lord taught us—not for ourselves, but for those around us, especially the “least of the brethren.” Confessing Him as the One Who grants the gift of faith, as well as the One in Whom our faith is fulfilled, we are challenged to bring forth the fruits of faith, not by debating vague and often undefined values, but by loving others, even our enemies, as He loves us—unconditionally. And finally, we are challenged to proclaim our faith and Christ-centered lives in word and in deed, so that those who sit in darkness will have yet another opportunity to rejoice in His divine Light.
On this glorious and radiant feast, it is my heartfelt prayer that the Newborn Savior of the world will strengthen the faith that He has given you as a most precious gift—a gift that I pray you will value and honor every moment of your lives, with every breath you take! May this gift serve as the guide, as well as the goal, for proclaiming the wondrous news of the Incarnation of the Son of God now and throughout the coming year!
With love in the newborn Lord,
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada