We greet all those who are celebrating today the feast of the Nativity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the Flesh!
Patriarchal Proclamation Christmas 2014
By God's Mercy Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome
and Ecumenical Patriarch
To the Plenitude of the Church:
Grace, mercy, and peace from the Savior Christ, born in Bethlehem
Beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord,
"Christ is descending from the heavens;
let us meet Him!"
God has appeared on earth and, at the same time, we have seen the perfect man together with the inconceivable value of the human person. Today especially, we experience the condition of humanity after the fall, as we daily affirm with the Psalmist that "all have gone stray, they are all alike corrupt; there is none that does good – no, not one!" (Psalm 13.3; Rom. 3.12-13)
Before the incarnation of Christ, humanity could never imagine the inconceivable value of the human person, which was weakened and distorted after the fall. Only the most illumined people could perceive, even before the time of Christ, the value of the human person and the response to the Psalmist's question: "What is man that God would remember him?" (Psalm 8.5), which they proclaimed in the Psalmist's words: "You have made man a little lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor." (Psalm 8.6)
Ιt is this supreme value of the human person that the divine-human Lord revealed. And since that time, we each year have heard repeated declarations on the same subject by states, governments and social groups as well international treaties about respecting the human person and human rights.
We witness with great surprise the constantly repeated "drama of Bethlehem." It is a drama because it is no longer a joyous event when we ignore the Son and Word of God born in a manger, when humanity as His creation is not respected as a "divine image."
Our holy Orthodox Church and its theology teach us that humanity and the human body deserve the utmost respect because they were united to God in the incarnate Lord. Therefore, all of us are obliged to intensify our efforts for the supreme value of the human person to be respected by everyone.
It is with great sorrow and deep regret that the Ecumenical Patriarchate follows the ongoing and increasing waves of violence and brutality, which continue to plague various regions of our planet and especially the entire Middle East, and in particular the native Christians there, often in the name of religion. We will never cease to declare to all from this Sacred Center of Orthodoxy – to our brother Primates of the Orthodox and other Christian Churches, the leaders and representatives of other religions, the heads of state and every person of good will everywhere, but above all to our fellow human beings that, whether motivated or not by others, place their own lives at risk in order to deprive others of their lives; for they, too, are created by God – that there can be no form of true and genuine religiosity or spirituality without love toward the human person. Any ideological, social or religious expression that either despises humanity created in the image of God or else teaches and permits the death of our fellow human beings, especially in the savage and primitive ways that we see, surely has nothing to do with the God of love.
Dear brothers and sisters, as we turn our attention to the situation prevailing in our world today, we condemn the tragic events stemming from hatred of other religions and enmity toward people, which we witness so frighteningly close to us as we hear and see the terror so readily through social media. In response, we offer as the only powerful antidote to contemporary violence the "ultimate poverty" of God, which always acts as love and which surprised the wise men and the entire world. This is the mystical power of God, the mystical power of the Orthodox Church, and the mystical power of the Christian faith. This is the power that conquers and overcomes every form of violence and evil through love.
This is our humble assessment of world affairs this Christmas. We pray that everyone may experience the joy of utmost respect for the human person, of our fellow human being. We also pray for the cessation of every form of violence, which can only be overcome through the love promoted and provided by the "angel of great counsel," the "prince of peace," our Savior Christ.
May the grace, boundless mercy and goodwill of the newly-born and incarnate Lord of glory, peace and love be with you all.
Your fervent supplicant to God,
Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome,
and Ecumenical Patriarch
Nativity and Theophany Message from the Assembly of Bishops
To the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of Parish Councils, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Members of Philanthropic Organizations, the Youth and Youth Workers, and the entire Orthodox Christian Family of the United States of America.
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As we gather in our communities to celebrate the Great Feasts of the Nativity and Theophany, we offer praise, honor and worship to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Who has rendered us worthy once again to rejoice with the Shepherds, pay homage with the Magi, and to exclaim with the Angelic Powers, Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill to all!
During this time, each of us looks forward to experiencing our local customs and traditions, which we have received from our ancestors. We adorn our homes and our churches with lights, garland and tinsel; we sing carols together and exchange gifts with each other; and we crown our celebration by receiving the Holy Eucharist.
Beloved faithful, indeed, we have received an abundance of God's blessings, and we are especially thankful for being able to announce the Incarnation of God in our homes, in our churches, and in the public square. This is, however, not the case for all people, most especially our brothers and sisters around the world who patiently endure unspeakable persecution because they are Christian. In Syria, Iraq and the broader Middle East, Christians are still pressured to abandon their ancestral homelands, renounce their faith, or face the sword. During this season, it is important to intensify our prayers for Metropolitan Paul and Archbishop John of Aleppo, whose fate still eludes us, and for Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid, who remains wrongfully imprisoned, suffering continuous human rights violations. At the sight of these and other atrocities, we raise our voices, lamenting the loss of life and the abuse of human dignity.
Certainly, the Incarnation of God gladdens our hearts, and we shall not be overcome by fear and darkness. During this season of giving and receiving, let us turn to the Lord and ask that the afflicted receive the soothing comfort of His Spirit; let us call upon His name and ask that His heavenly peace restore our broken world; let us bend our knees and ask that His boundless love soften the frigid hearts of those embittered. And in turn, let us offer to Him who nourishes the universe our greatest gift—a life of virtue.
On the occasion of the blessed Feasts of the Nativity and Theophany, I offer to each of you my paternal love and prayers for a joyful season of incarnate worship and God-revealing fellowship.
+Archbishop Demetrios of America
Chairman, Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America
Archpastoral Message of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon
To the honorable Clergy, Venerable Monastics, and Pious Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America,
My Beloved Brethren and Blessed Children in the Lord,
I greet all of you with the joy of the most glorious Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ! As Saint Leo the Great reminds us in his sermon on the Nativity, “in adoring the birth of our Savior, we find that we are celebrating the commencement of our own lives, for the birth of Christ is the source of life for the Christian people, and the birthday of the Head is the birthday of the Body.”
Indeed, we rejoice and celebrate on this great day. Yet we must never fail to recall those for whom the earthly sojourn seems to be anything but joyful—the lost and searching and seeking, the lonely and forgotten, the sick and imprisoned and persecuted, the hungry and thirsty, and those who, like the Christ Child, “have no where to lay their heads.” If the birth of Christ is the commencement and source of our lives, then it is not only our duty, but our blessed honor, to share the light of the newborn Christ with those who sit “in the valley of the shadow of death,” thereby revealing the love God so richly and unconditionally pours out on all who would accept it.
Our Lord proclaimed good news to the poor, gave sight to the blind, and healed every manner of infirmity. How well we know the spiritual poverty and blindness and infirmity that fills our world today. And how crucial it is to be continuously reminded that “with God, all things are possible,” (Mt 19:26) precisely because “God is with us” (Mt 1:23) and calls us to become “partakers in His divine nature.” (2 Peter 1:4) Even our most seemingly insignificant expressions of love and compassion for “the least of the brethren” (Mt 25:40) make the impossible, possible and the mundane as miraculous as the divine birth we celebrate today.
The angelic hosts called out to the simple shepherds: “Tarry not in the field, O ye that shepherd the nurslings of the flocks! Cry aloud and sing praises, that Christ the Lord hath been born in Bethlehem!” Let us not tarry in singing praises to our incarnate Lord, not only with our voices, but also with our unconditional acts of love and kindness and compassion. Such is the fruit of the good news proclaimed over two thousand years ago. And such is the very heart of our common ministry to incarnate Him in our hearts and our lives, and in the hearts and lives of those whom He continually prepares to encounter Him.
Please be assured of my prayers for all of you, that Our Lord will not only equip us in our common ministry as His Body, but bring our efforts to fruition. May the divine blessing that He so freely brings into the world remain with all of us now and throughout the new year to come!
With love in the New-Born Christ,
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada
Nativity Archpastoral Message 2014
"God is with us"
This is one of the names of our Lord Jesus: “Emmanuel, which being interpreted is: God with us!” (Mat. 1:23).
How comforting are these words! What great and exalted promises the Son of God offers to us on the occasion of His Birth - that we will share in friendship with the Father and His Son. And where the Son and the Father are there also the Holy Spirit is not excluded. The human mind cannot fathom God’s goodness. God, Who is great desires to have friendship with us - as long as we do not reject it.
Behold to what height of love the Lord Jesus bids us attain! We are made worthy to be the dwelling and home of the Most Holy Trinity, for God is well disposed to dwell in us by Grace (cf. Ephesians 3:17). “And we know that we are of God…, and we are in Him that is true” (1 John 5:19, 20). Blessed indeed is such a heart! It feels the true joy, which is abundantly poured forth into the hearts of all of us who are chosen unto eternal life.
Thus our hearts possess that which is meant by the words: “The Kingdom of God is within you!”(Luke 17:21). For there where God is, is also all that belongs to Him. God is within us, thus we will have His justification for our sins, peace instead of our evil conscience, joy instead of our misery, comfort instead of our sorrow, wisdom and intelligence instead of confusion and ignorance, strength in our weakness. “If God be for us, who can be against us?” boldly exclaims St. Paul (Romans 8:32). Together with him we also boldly ask, if the Lord dwells in us, then who can be against us? If He is our peace, then who can disturb us? If He is our joy and comfort, then who or what can cause us sorrow? If He is our strength, then who can overcome us? If He is our King, then who can subjugate us?
So, today, in this season of His blessed Nativity in the flesh, let us say with one voice: “Welcome home, Emmanuel! Happy birth day, Jesus! We are Yours and with joy in our hearts we express our thankfulness for Your goodness to us!”
Have a blessed Nativity of Christ and a wonderful New Year 2015!
With love in the Lord,
+ Metropolitan JOSEPH