"Come, O faithful
let us see where Christ was born!
Together with the Magi, the Kings of the East
let us follow the star where it goes."
(Christmas Matins, Tone 4)
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 Day and Afternoon Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
"We have seen his star in the east, and have come to worship Him." (Matthew 2:2)
With these words the Magi explained to the bewildered people of Jerusalem their burning desire to know where the newborn King was to be found. From afar, across desert and mountain they came, not at the bidding of a prophet, not in response to Scripture, not in obedience to a dream or ecstatic vision. It was a single silent star that brought them, leading them westward from palaces of glory to a humble stable in Bethlehem of Judea.
How is it that a solitary star moved these ancient astrologers to make this long trek? These men who studied the nighttime skies knew well the constellations and the planets; they understood the celestial paths of stars and comets and moons. They recognized the North Star, the Pleiades, and the other heavenly luminaries that guided men in their travels. And so they perceived, gazing upon the wondrous Star of Bethlehem, that they were witnesses to a phenomenon great and awesome: a new star, a star leading kings to a King, a guiding star which was guided by One who willed to draw all men unto Himself (John 12:32).
Thus began in Bethlehem the reunification and reintegration of the human race. Age-old divisions melt away under the light of the Star of Bethlehem. Rich and poor come together in worship, educated and illiterate, young and old, male and female, Jews and Gentiles, saints and sinners, angels and humans and even beasts of the field--all creation pauses to bask in the joy of the moment, to bow down and worship the incarnate Son of God. All is calm, all is bright in one small corner of this dark and troubled world. All is whole again as the star of Bethlehem ushers in the Sun of Righteousness, risen with healing in his wings (Malachi 4:2).
Two millennia have passed since the Magi searched the heavens and found Heaven in a manger. Long since has their guiding star returned to its natural course in the skies. But the will of God remains forever the same: to draw all humanity unto Himself by the light of His grace, His peace, His good will.
Where, then, is His star in the east, leading mankind to experience the glories of His righteousness, and the wonders of His love? Where now is the lodestar for our fallen race, guiding us into the very presence of Emmanuel--God with us?
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
We are called to be the Christmas star. We who have basked in the healing rays of the Sun of Righteousness, who have tasted the joy of His Kingdom--we are called to be the light of the world (Matthew 5:14), leading those around us to the knowledge of our Incarnate Lord. We, in whose hearts the day has dawned and the morning star has risen (2 Peter 1:19)--we are designated the guiding stars of humanity, drawing others to Christ through the light of our peace and harmony and good will, through the brilliance of our faith and virtue and kindness, and through the warmth of our zeal and forgiveness and love.
Ours is the task of pointing our fellow men to Jesus Christ. Quietly, patiently, like that bright star of old, we endeavor to bring together people of every nation and race and station to the manger of Bethlehem, where the Newborn Savior, the Dayspring from on high, is waiting to give light to those in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace (Luke 1:79).
May the light, the peace, and the joy of Christmas be with your homes and families today, and in the dawning New Year, and always as you worship the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America