Dear <<First Name>>,
Christ is Born! Glorify Him!
I pray you all are rejoicing in the Feast!
Enjoy greetings from our Metropolitan and Archbishop below :-)
Metropolitan Tikhon’s 2018 Nativity Message now available
SYOSSET, NY [OCA]
The Nativity Message of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, is now available. The complete text appears below. The message is also available in PDF format.
Archpastoral Message of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon Nativity of Christ 2018
Christ is born! Glorify Him!
To the Honorable Clergy, Venerable Monastics, and Pious Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America,
My beloved brethren and blessed children in the Lord,
Today, the glorious feast of the Nativity in the Flesh of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ shines forth and brings joy to all of creation. The sacred hymnography and iconography of the Church provide words and images to help us interpret the light-filled feast that we celebrate on this day, when He Who “has adorned the vault of heaven with stars has been well pleased to be born as a babe,” and He Who “holds all the earth in the hollow of His hands is laid in a manger of dumb beasts.”
Holy Tradition offers us the account of the universal hush that took place at the incarnation, expressed in Joseph’s encounter with the stillness of the natural world: birds hanging motionless in flight, men and beasts frozen in their tracks and the waters ceasing their flow. The continuous passage of time and movement of history came to a halt as creation paused in astonishment as the Eternal enters into the heart of time and the pre-eternal God is born as a little child.
This miraculous moment may be unique in history, but it provides us with some inspiration for the manner in which we ought to receive the sacred mystery that we celebrate today. The Apostle Paul writes: “Be ye thankful” (Colossians 3:15) and “In everything give thanks” (I Thessalonians 5:18). It is in this spirit of gratitude that we should receive this feast.
We live in a world in which the offering of thanksgiving has become a scarce commodity and a rare virtue. In almost every aspect of our human existence, it seems that our first instinct is not to give thanks, but rather to reply, to respond, or to react. At every second of our waking, we are compelled to reply to emails, to texts and to posts. Daily, we respond to our own passionate desires, to every perceived threat and to every offense, and we are drawn to react to every instance of human fallenness, political division and ecclesiastical conflict.
While it may be easier to blame the world for these challenges, we should remember that it is from within our hearts that our actions and attitudes spring forth. We may long for perfection, but we are confronted by our own weaknesses. But even here we should remember, as Saint Barsanuphius reminds us, that thanksgiving intercedes before God for our weaknesses. Thanksgiving is not the crown of the perfect but the strength of the weak.
Thanksgiving is what allows us as broken, sorrowful, hurting and frail human beings to join our voices to the rest of creation in singing:
Make glad, O ye righteous; Greatly rejoice, O ye heavens; Ye mountains dance for joy.
Christ is born; and like the cherubim the Virgin makes a throne,
Carrying at her bosom God the Word made flesh.
Shepherds glorify the new-born Child.
Magi offer the Master gifts.
Angels sing praises, saying:
“O Lord past understanding, glory to Thee” (Praises at Matins).
Sincerely yours in the new-born Christ,
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada
NATIVITY OF OUR LORD 2018
To the Reverend Clergy and Faithful of the Diocese of the West
Christ is Born! Glorify Him!
Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:30-33)
These words of the Archangel Gabriel, while belonging to our knowledge and celebration of the Annunciation, speak eternal truths about our celebration of the Incarnation of the Son of Mary. The first truth is that the pre-eternal Son of God, existing from before time with the Father and the Spirit, takes His flesh from the Virgin Mary. He took our flesh.
The second eternal truth is that the One who took that flesh from the Virgin Mary is in very fact the Son of God, uniting in Himself the divine nature which He had from the beginning with the human nature in which He humbly clothes Himself. He assumes the fallen human nature completely, so that we can be clothed by Grace with the Divine. “Flesh” seems to be the painful source of so much sin from the beginning, so much corruption. Gluttony, drunkenness, promiscuity, even a disgust for the flesh that God clothed me in — seeking to alter it surgically or hormonally. St. Paul uses the term “flesh” to generally describe the fallenness of our world, and each of us individually. But it is, ironically, precisely “Flesh” that saves us, if we but clothe ourselves in that flesh transfigured by Him.
Our celebration of the Nativity of our Lord is more than a mere remembrance of something that happened more than 2,000 years ago, something for which all of human history had been waiting. It is more than the reduction of this Day to carols, Christmas trees, gross consumerism and even “family.” The celebration is rather the Mystery of God made man, making man a partaker of the Divine. The brokenness, sin and death that consumed the world almost from the beginning in the Fall is made whole again by the Son of God healing creation itself by filling it with Himself. In Christ, there is no death — only Life.
So we have the daily choice — with which flesh do we clothe ourselves? The fallen, corrupt flesh of the “world,” consuming creation and ourselves through a life lived without the vigilance and awareness that Christ has come and offered us a different life? Or the heartfelt and sincere acceptance of the Gift of a flesh made divine through our participation in Him and His Church? Put a little more simply, do we choose Life or Death?
We spend a lot of effort (and money) around “gifts” at this time of the year. May each and every one of us discern, accept and wrap ourselves in the only Gift that matters — the eternal Son of God made Man.
Christ is Born! Glorify Him!
In the new-born Child,
Archbishop of San Francisco and the West