His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America
Greetings to the Northern New Jersey Christmas Show
Saint Athanasios Greek Orthodox Church
Paramus, New Jersey
December 21, 2021
Beloved children in the Lord,
I am so happy to be with you – the dear children of our Northern New Jersey communities, together with your parents and siblings as well. Only just a few days away from Christmas, I am thinking about the journey of the Virgin Mary and Joseph, as they made their way to Bethlehem.
In a very early Christian writing that is not found in the New Testament, called the Protevangelion of James – which is a source of some traditions of the Church – we hear a detail of the journey that is not usually mentioned in the stories of Christmas.
It says that some of the children of Joseph – from a previous marriage – came along, and that Joseph’s son, Simon, led the donkey that carried the Virgin Mary.1
Personally, I love this detail, because it demonstrates the involvement of children in the journey – the very thing that we are doing here right now. This Christmas show is about involving our children and making them part of the story.
If we think about what would have been happening just some days before the Birth of the Lord, it feels like it might have been a very anxious time. We already know that there was no room for them at the inn.2 They had to seek out some form of protection, and found the Cave, which was used to house animals like cattle and donkeys.
But to hear that Joseph’s children joined the Virgin in the Cave,3 gives a picture that is comforting, because it shows how supportive the family can be. And this is precisely why we have gathered here this evening, in order to be a family in Christ. Like the children of Joseph, who helped guide the Virgin to the Cave in Bethlehem, we are here to guide one another, and to inspire one another to seek out where Christ can be born in our hearts.
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I thank all of you for coming here tonight to demonstrate to our children the importance of family and what it truly means.
I also would like to express our gratitude to our host – the wonderful Community of Saint Athanasios here in Paramus – for their welcoming embrace.
I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy and Healthy New Year of 2022! May the good Lord bless us all!