Greeting By His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America
At the Archdiocesan Christmas Open House
December 21, 2022
My dear friends,
Having only recently returned from the Holy Land, and from the Holy Cave in Bethlehem within the Church of the Nativity, my welcome to all of you tonight has a very special meaning for me.
We call this our annual Christmas Open House, because it is a time when we open the doors of the Archdiocese to one and all. Everyone is welcome – no appointments necessary.
I am reminded of how open the Cave in the Church of the Nativity is to all, as well as the Holy Sepulcher itself. All of these touchpoints of our salvation are not exclusive, but rather inclusive, and indeed, receptive.
So, I ask myself, and I ask all of you gathered here this evening as well: “What is the nature of our welcome of others to the Church of Christ?”
If it is like the welcome of the Christ-child in the little cave of Bethlehem, it is a welcome without judgment. It is a welcome of innocence and of the love that a child offers. As it says in the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, “and a little Child shall lead them.”*
Therefore, let us reach back into our memories and grasp once again the innocence of being a child – a child of God. The days of our childhoods are times when we can feel the experience of wonder and openness to the world around us. It was a time of “firsts;” whether first steps, first words, or first friendships, or the first awe and curiosity of life.
Let us allow the Little Child of Bethlehem to inspire our hearts to open with love and acceptance for whomever or whatever God leads into our lives.
And may the same always be true for our Sacred Archdiocese.
May we always listen to voices – however faint – that yearn to be heard.
May we always welcome with open doors, open minds and open hearts those who come knocking, seeking and asking.
May we always find space for those who wish to come into the Church. The inn was full, but the earth provided the Cave for the Lord of Glory to be born.
Let us also provide that space in the Church for all who wish to enter into the joy of the Lord and live as true children of God.
May He grant unto all of us a very joyous and spiritually uplifting celebration of our Lord’s Nativity, and may we all enjoy a healthy and happy New Year of 2023!
Καλά Χριστούγεννα σε όλους!