Syosset, New York
NATIVITY OF CHRIST 2006
Christ is born! Glorify Him!
To the Very Reverend and Reverend Clergy, Monastics, and Faithful of The Orthodox Church in America
Make glad, O righteous!
Greatly rejoice, O heavens! O mountains, dance for joy!
Christ is born, and like the cherubim the Virgin makes a throne,
carrying at her bosom the Word made flesh!
Shepherds glorify the new-born Child!
Magi offer the Master gifts! Angels sing praises, saying:
“O Lord, beyond all understanding, glory to Thee!”
— Nativity Matins
Dearly beloved in Christ,
The beautiful liturgical hymns we sing in celebration of the birth of Our Savior, Jesus Christ, resound with a single theme: joy.
They proclaim the joy all creation shares as its Creator takes on the human flesh. They invite us to rejoice with the angelic hosts in praising the Word made flesh, dwelling amongst us. And they challenge us to look beyond the cares and concerns, the worries and woes of this world in anticipation of the new life the Savior offers us—a life that, while beyond all understanding, is already revealed to us and experienced by us in the life of His Body, the Church.
The era in which we live has little appreciation for mystery, less capacity for rejoicing in that which it cannot understand rationally. Mired as we are in global conflict, political and financial uncertainties, and the constant questioning of everything from the role of the family to planning for retirement, we often make little time to delve into the things that are not of this world. The dream of the “good life” eludes us. The threat of terrorism chills us. If we find little in God’s creation in which to delight and rejoice, how can we possibly find joy in a mystery beyond all understanding, a mystery that points us to the Kingdom in which all will be fulfilled, perfected, and revealed?
Indeed, the birth of Our Savior is filled with great mystery. The virgin gives birth, yet she remains a virgin. God takes on our human nature, yet He remains that which He is from all eternity. The King of All reigns from a cave, rather than a sumptuous palace. The manger becomes His throne; simple shepherds, His court. The angels serve as His messengers; the powerful of the world, His enemies. The Messiah comes unto His own; despite centuries of anticipation, they fail to recognize Him as the Living Word the written word joyously reveals.
Beyond the externals, beyond the world’s inability to grasp this mystery, lies a joyful reality beyond all understanding and earthly wisdom. The love God offers us through the incarnation of His Son transcends all understanding, yet it is real, freely offered as a gift to all who accept it and share it and delight in it. Through the eyes of faith alone do we discover that which is beyond all understanding and rejoice in the reality of God’s love for us, sinful as we are.
With great joy I greet you on this glorious and radiant feast. May the understanding of the incarnation renew us and refresh us now, in the new year to come, and in every moment of our lives.
With love in the New-Born Savior,
Archbishop of Washington and New York
Metropolitan of All America and Canada
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