The Nativity of Christ
…and the Logos became flesh and dwelt among us,
full of grace and truth (John 1:14).
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,
My Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
We greet once again the arrival of the Feast of the Nativity of Christ with feelings of indescribable joy and deep awe. The birth of Jesus Christ was an event of universal proportions and ageless relevance. In considering the birth of Jesus, we ponder the infinite love of our Incarnate God the Word, who for us and for our salvation “became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
The Nativity of Christ, a beautiful and miraculous event, marked in a very real manner the visible and palpable entry of salvation into our world. As such, it radiated unto the heavens and the far corners of the earth, summoning both angels and shepherds in reverent adoration, alerting the Magi from afar, and inviting people in love, calling them from across the world to respond with devotion and faith.
By entering the world as an infant, our God made known to us, in a very intimate and tender way, the awesome lengths to which He would go in order to offer salvation as a triumph of love, as an everlasting communion with Him. Those who were blessed to witness firsthand the miracle of the birth of Christ, whose name is Emmanuel [which means “God with us”] (Matthew 1:23), were instilled with the insatiable yearning to respond to the love of God through faith, a faith that guided them to the place of His birth, that flooded them with feelings of joy, and that moved them to return to their places “glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen” (Luke 2:20).
Like those who witnessed the miracle of the Nativity, we too are recipients of God’s love. Like the shepherds and the Magi, we too are invited by Christ during this special season to experience the same, living miracle of grace and truth witnessed in Bethlehem centuries ago. We too have been issued a grand invitation to respond to the love of God in faith, and through that faith to be brought together in communion with Him and with one another.
This is the essence of the miracle of the Incarnation: God is with us. He became flesh and dwelt among us. He is in our midst, offering to our homes and families His abiding love, just as He demonstrated this love to those who witnessed Him in Bethlehem. He is with us in every moment and aspect of our relationship with Him, in our hopes and in our doubts, in our accomplishments and in our struggles, in our joys and in our sorrows. Especially, He is with us as we grow in faith and offer testimony to others concerning His abundant love.
He is with us in our communities--communities of worship and ministry that serve Him who became one of us. He is with us in our parishes, which through the Holy Sacraments have incorporated each of us into Him and have made us members of His body, the very body that was born in Bethlehem. He is with us in our Church, which confesses and proclaims Him God Incarnate, full of grace and truth.
As we joyously celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ, it is my heartfelt prayer that our hearts may be centered continuously upon the magnificent love of God for us, and that we, in turn, may grow continuously in our love for Him and in our faith in His abiding presence.
May you have a blessed Christmas and a joyous New Year 2004, in the peace and love of God.
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America