Archpastoral Letter for the Nativity 2007

Prot. 184-December 24, 2007

To the Reverend and Very Reverend Clergy, and Devout Faithful of this God-Beloved Diocese:

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

Christos Razdajetsja! Slavite Jeho!

I greet all of you with the words of the Archangel: "Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:10-11).

And I invite you to sing with the Angelic Choir: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men" (Luke 2:14).

What a mighty announcement that was to the poor Shepherds! What a bright star that shone in the darkness to the Wise Men! What a heavenly, glorious gift was carried in the womb of a poor young Virgin, seated upon a donkey, accompanied by an old carpenter!

In Bethlehem, the richest, most majestic Gift of all time was hidden in obscurity. It was hidden in the familiarity of the poor, not exalted in the celebrity of the powerful. This Gift was not enthroned in a rich palace, but was camouflaged in a lowly manger, within a cave of the earth.

It was only in such a place, and with such a people, that God came to set His dwelling among men. It was here that the Infinite Beauty of Divinity came to establish peace on earth and the Good Will of the Gospel.

Why in a cave? Why with the poor? Because there was no room anywhere, or with anyone, else. There was no other place or people. Remember - "there was no room in the Inn."

There is still no room for the Child Christ, the Prince of Peace. Just as the whole civilized world was too busy with the census, the wars and commerce at the Nativity of Christ, so the world today is too busy with the economy, wars and the business of the holidays. There are many seasonal lights and decorations, and there are many songs, many things to do, many people to see, appointments to keep. There is hustle and bustle and shopping galore. But there is no time and no place for the Infant Prince of Peace.

The business of the Inn--where there was no room--and the economy of the marketplace--where there is never time enough--will make you tired but never warm. It may leave you cold and sad, but not strong and glad. There is entertainment to be sure, and there are parties, concerts, recitals and travel, but there is not enough peace.

There is no room in the modern Christmas for peace, because there is no room for the Prince of Peace. There remains no room in the Inn.

And that is why God gave Jesus to the poor. The rich are too busy, too impressed with the big, shiny packages under the tree. They have grown too accustomed to the comforts of the world, to used to their own sufficiency and luxury to notice the small, obscure package of a Cave and a Manger, of an unknown King of an undiscovered Country, an ox and a donkey who knew enough to worship, a carpenter and the Queen of Heaven, and the Prince of Peace Who had come into a world that had forgotten what true Peace ever was.

What the rich leave unopened, the poor receive with humble thanks. God announced to the Shepherds and Wise Men the Nativity of His Son, the Incarnation of the Prince of Peace. And through them, He has announced this Heavenly Gift unto us.

It is up to us to receive this Gift of Divine Grace, and to make room for the Prince of Peace. There was not room in the Inn for Him, but there can be room in your heart for Christ the Lord. There can be room at your table, in your home and in your church. There can be, and there must be, room in this Diocese for the Prince of Peace.

In the Sacraments and in our prayers, the Holy Spirit brings us to Jesus Christ, Who conducts us to the Father. Christ is called the Prince of Peace because in His Body that we receive in the Eucharist, and in His Body that we become under His Headship, we are plunged into the Energetic fellowship of the Holy Trinity. This Fellowship is the Place of Wholeness in a shattered world, the Peace of Salvation from spiritual decay, the Peace of Beauty and Goodness in an age of pollution and contempt, the Peace of Love that is stronger than death in a world of war, and the Peace of the very Personhood of Christ.

This is the Peace you can find only in the Prince of Peace. And that is why He, the Second Person of the Trinity, has come: He has come to be the Word of God the Father, to announce, through the witness of the Holy Spirit, that the Church is now a New World of Paradise.

So let us receive this Gift of the Prince of Peace, and let us enjoy it together this Christmas Day, and let us rehearse its Mysteries forever. Let us be changed by this most majestic Gift, and let us be renewed and healed by the Peace of the Holy Trinity. Let us rejoice with the Theotokos and Joseph the Carpenter. Let us bow down in adoration with the poor Shepherds and the travel-weary Wise Men.

And best of all, let us sing with the Angels "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."

Let us sing of Peace on earth, for that Peace is Christ Himself, Jesus our Lord, the Prince of Peace.

Granting you my festival Archpastoral blessings on this glad Nativity season, I remain

Most sincerely yours in the Grace of Christ,