December 25, 2010
The Nativity of Christ
Come, O faithful, and let us see where Christ is born!
(Orthros Hymn of the Feast)
To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Distinguished Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
On this glorious Feast of the Nativity of Christ we celebrate a truly wondrous event in which God, in His infinite and marvelous grace, became man bringing us enduring hope, newness of life, and eternal salvation. The holy birth in Bethlehem of our Savior occurred at a specific time, but His Incarnation and its significance for our redemption are timeless. The Son of God, the Lord of Glory and King of kings who upholds the universe by His word of power, became man so that we human beings might be redeemed, renewed, united with Him, and become fellow citizens with the Saints and members of God’s household.
The magnitude and the depth of the event of the Nativity of Christ are impossible to grasp, but yet its message is clear and true. It is a message of grace, hope, and salvation to all humanity and all of the created order. It is a message which we both celebrate and share on this sacred day, an invitation to “come and see” what our loving Creator and God has done for us.
On the night of the Nativity, the angels appeared in the glory of God and announced the birth of Christ to the shepherds. In response they said, “Let us go…and see this thing that has happened.” Accepting the invitation to participate in this glorious event, they came and saw the newborn Christ, and becoming amazed by what God had done for our salvation, went away glorifying and praising Him for all that they had seen and heard (Luke 2:8-20).
Following the Nativity, wise men in the East saw a mysterious star and following it came seeking the King who was born in Judea. Upon learning of the place of the birth of the Lord, they came and saw the Christ child, offered Him gifts, and worshipped Him. Responding to the invitation presented to them in the sign of the star, they came and encountered the One who would be a great ruler of His people as foretold by the prophets (Matthew 2:1-12).
As the shepherds and wise men received the invitation to “come and see” the superb miracle of the Incarnation of God, so too we are invited on this great feast to come and encounter Christ, and to see the great and marvelous work He has done for us and our salvation. On this day we come and see the brilliant light of truth and life shining through the darkness and despair of our world. We hear a message of hope and grace that causes us to cease all other thoughts and activities and direct our hearts and minds to the One who has come to bring us peace and assurance. We come to Christ and see justice, holiness, and love and realize the necessity of these for true and abundant life.
We are also called to share our joy in Christ and to offer this invitation to everyone. We are the bearers of the good news of what God has done for us in defeating sin and death. We are the messengers shouting to the world as did the angels, “Glory to God in the highest!” We are, as the star of the East did to the Magi, to lead all who are searching to come and see Christ, to come and see the One who brings life and hope, peace and joy into every heart that receives Him. We are the people who are called to gather all God’s people to His home, to an encounter with our Lord Jesus Christ.
On this blessed Christmas Feast of joy and love, I offer to you and your families my wishes for a beautiful day of worship and fellowship filled with peace and the presence of God. May we offer together our gratitude to our Lord for what He has done for us through His glorious Incarnation. May we also offer an invitation to all to come and see the glory of the Lord.
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America
2010 Encyclical of Archbishop Demetrios for the Feast of the Nativity of Christ
December 25, 2010