Protocol Number 187/13
December 25, 2013
The Nativity of Christ
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given.... (Isaiah 9:6)
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,
In the culmination of this blessed season with the glorious celebration of the Nativity of Christ, we give thanksgiving and praise to God for His abundant grace and for His superb gift of becoming one of us through His Incarnation. This is a feast of joy and light. It is a jubilation on a day and a moment when God because of His great love for us took our humanity upon Himself. Through our Lord's conception and birth, He entered our human condition. He assumed the flesh and blood that He created. He became man so that He might offer to us power over sin and death and the gift of total liberation from evil.
On this day we celebrate God's gift to us and to all of humanity and creation. This gift was foretold by the Prophet Isaiah, "For unto us a Child is born, unto us a child is given" (Isaiah 9:6). Through His gift, He offers us hope. In the darkness, the brilliant light of promise illumines a path to God through Christ. In our struggle against sin and the many challenges of life, He reveals to us how we can restore our communion with Him, and assures us that we will have the strength to complete our journey of faith. Through the Incarnation of Christ, we are shown the way to true and eternal life, and we become witnesses of the power of God to redeem what He created and loves.
We celebrate this Feast and this wondrous gift at a time when many throughout our world are in need of compassion and hope. We have seen massive destruction and loss due to recent natural disasters. We have witnessed the tragedy of violence within our communities and in nations around the world. We are acutely aware of the struggles of our brothers and sisters in Greece and Cyprus and in other places where economic challenges have burdened many. We are conscious of the ordeals of our Ecumenical Patriarchate due to severe restrictions on true religious freedom. We see around us the consequences when human dignity is devalued and life is exploited.
It is into the midst of the plight of humanity and these challenges that we carry the message of this Feast: For unto us a Child is born and unto us a Son is given! We share a Gospel of hope and promise. Christ has become man, and this unique gift to us has become the spiritual foundation for our offering to others in need. In gratitude to Him, in our compassion for our fellow human beings, and as a witness of the greatest gift of all, we offer to those who have lost everything, who carry the burden of despair, who suffer under conditions they cannot control or change, who have been victims of the abuse of others. They need to hear and see that God has given Himself to them, that His grace is revealed through Christ so that they might have hope and true life.
On this holy and blessed Feast of the Nativity of Christ, may our hearts be filled with joy as we receive and celebrate the gift of God and the gift of hope and life. May we also renew our commitment to share this gift with everyone. Let us give from our abundance so that others receive care and healing. Let us respond to the needs of those around us and throughout the world, so that the witness of God's grace may shine in every place. And may our good and gracious God bless you and your families as you share in fellowship and prayer on this beautiful and sacred day.
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America
Encyclical of Archbishop Demetrios for the Feast of the Nativity of Christ 2013
Protocol Number 187/13