His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America
Greetings at the Metropolis of New Jersey Christmas Tree Lighting
Westfield, New Jersey
December 16, 2021
Beloved Fathers, Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
I am so very pleased to be with all of you here this evening, as we inaugurate one more aspect of joy over the Nativity of our Lord, and light the annual Christmas Tree.
As your Patriarchal Vicar for well over a year now, I have come to feel a great love, and an equally great responsibility for this Metropolis. And thus, it is very special for me to be with you at this festive time of the year.
We come together to light this tree as an affirmation, not only of our happiness, because of the Christmas Season, but on account of our deep faith in the reality of the Incarnation, which is the essence of our Orthodox Christian faith.
The Metropolis of New Jersey has a special place in the Archdiocese, having once been under the direct supervision of the Archbishop. With the late and ever-memorable Metropolitan Silas, New Jersey was made a special Diocese under a past Charter. It grew to include the Philadelphia region, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, and thus became a dynamic corridor of spiritual life for tens of thousands of faithful on the East Coast.
You are the only Metropolis named for a State, rather than a city. This alone symbolizes something extraordinary about you. The history and special status of the New Jersey Metropolis is reflected in the tremendous activity and ministries that are pursued throughout the year.
The Christmas Season reminds us of what these ministries mean. They are all about forming children of God – from the youngest to the oldest, for we are all His daughters and sons.
Therefore, as we light this tree tonight, let our minds and hearts open widely to the little Child, Who was born for our sake in Bethlehem of Judea.
He came to us meek and mild, without pretension and without privilege. He was poor and without even a proper home, in which to come into the world. He was vulnerable and utterly dependent on others to protect Him, to feed Him, to care for Him, and to love Him.
As we look upon the beauty and the joyfulness of this tree, then, let us consider that each one of us is like the Child Who was born in Bethlehem. Each of us is vulnerable. Each of us is dependent on others. Each of us needs to feel safe, to feel nurtured, to feel cared for, to feel respected, and ultimately, to feel loved.
This Christmas, let us give those kind of gifts to one another. Let us behold the child of God in each and every person we encounter. Let us offer the cave of our hearts as a safe and protected shelter for those we love, and for those we have yet to love.
That is how the light from this Christmas Tree will become a light spreading the knowledge of God and the joy of our Savior.
Christ is Born!
Let us glorify Him!Merry Christmas!