December 21, 2012

Christ the Intercessor

A priest’s main job is to intercede for his people—with God of course, but with anyone else who might help. Saint John Maximovitch of Shanghai and San Francisco, who for years had lived and served as a priest and bishop in China, chained himself to the White House in the 1950’s to intercede for his people, Russian Orthodox refugees from Communist China. No country was willing to take them in. He pleaded with the US government to relent, and eventually they did, along with Australia and other countries.

Saint John died in 1966, and every priest before and after him dies. The central theme of the epistle to the Hebrews is that Jesus is the sole priest who lives forever and intercedes forever. “He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb 7:25). The intercessions of saints like St John after their death are only possible because they are “in Christ” who lives forever. Their priesthood is not their own, they exercise His eternal priesthood, and through Him they are able to hear our prayers and intercede for us as part of the Body of Christ.

Christmas is all about Christ’s intercession for the world. He is the priest who intercedes for us—all of us, the whole world, the whole creation—not merely in prayers and words, but by putting himself out for his people to the point of immersing himself in our life and ultimately dying for us. We were refugees, and through his intercession and self-sacrifice He opens the door to a home in Eden. 

The never-setting Sun presses forward to rise,
enlightening all things under heaven.
Let us hasten with clean hands and pure deeds to meet Him;
let us prepare to be borne on high with Him in spirit!
Let us beseech Him in His compassion,
that, as He comes in His good pleasure to His own strange birth,
He may lead us, who have become strangers to the path of life in Eden, //
into Bethlehem where He comes to be born!

(Verse at Vespers for the Forefeast of Christmas, Dec 23)

The Chancery at Christmas

Christmas at the Chancery
Christmas at the Chancery

There’s a beautiful Christmas atmosphere here. The Chancery is decorated and the music of Christmas plays on a small stereo in the hallway for all to hear. Christmas services will be held in Saint Sergius Chapel, but the offices will be closed from noon today until December 27th. Metropolitan Tikhon will preside at a Pre-Christmas lunch with all the Chancery staff and we’ll start our holidays with food, fellowship and Christmas carols.

I’ll be taking some time away with my family until January 5th and won’t be back to the Chancellor’s Diary until Tuesday, January 8th. May God bless all of you and your families as you celebrate Christmas, the New Year and Theophany. Christ is born! Glorify Him!