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My name is David Stone. I live in Houston, Texas. I am a 30-something single white male. I am an Orthodox Christian and am a member of an English-language parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR).

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Nativity Epistle of Metropolitan Volodymyr

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Nativity Epistle of His Beatitude Metropolitan Volodymyr to Reverend Archpastors, pastors, monastics and all faithful children of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church

Make merry, O heaven and earth, as the Prophets foretold! Celebrate in the spirit, O Angels and men! God is born from the Virgin and appears in the flesh to those who sit in darkness and shadow.

Sticheron at Litiya

Beloved in the Lord Archpastors, reverend pastors, honourable monastics of Christ, God-loving laymen, brothers and sisters!

Sharing with each of you the joy of the great feast, I greet you from all my heart on this wonderful triumph of the Heavens and the earth - on the Nativity of our God - the Lord and the Savior Jesus Christ!

The Son of God is now on the earth together with us! "Today Christ is born, Today the Unoriginate appears, the heavenly hosts rejoice, and all men and the earth rejoice..." (Sticheron of Nativity). The whole world has bated the breath on these holy days, since again the angelic glorifying chant comes from the sky down on the earth. "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men" (Luke 2: 14). We believe that this jubilation of the heavenly host echoes in every Christian heart, since the blessed peace, brought by the born God, also enlightens our souls today. Christ has reconciled the humanity with Himself, not imputing to men their transgressions, and committed to them the word of reconciliation (cf.: 2 Corinthians. 5: 19). Together with the angels we praise God in the highest, since it is in the incarnation of the Son of God that all the depth of God's Wisdom has revealed itself, redeeming the lost, restoring the falling, renewing the rotten. Celebrating the Nativity of Christ, we extend our gratitude to God, who has not left man, but has loved the world so much that "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3: 16). We testify that Jesus Christ is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity... And came and preached peace." (Ephesians 2: 14-15, 17).

Today, when our society is preoccupied with the daily, earthbound matters, overtaken by anxiety, and is fully busy looking for the better tomorrow, we perceive by our whole being the extreme need of listening to the voice of the Saviour, Who has come to the world, calling: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11: 28). Everything in the soul of man that rises above vanity and troubles of the everyday life, everything that is not created for the momentary needs, but works for eternity - all that is the result of the Christ's peace. As never before, man needs to discover in his heart that almost childish joy and blessed peace that came down to the souls of the shepherds, who heard the good news from the sky of Bethlehem (Luke 2: 8-14).

Infant Christ was born in poverty, simplicity and deep humility. The Son of God shared with us our human nature to relieve Adam from the former damnation and to reconcile us with God.

Holy Evangelist John tells us that "the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not" (John 1:5). The Orthodox people, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, hold this light in their hearts. Therefore, in spite of the darkness of the world around us we cannot but rejoice. This light enlightens the way of our new life, the life in Christ, and the festive jubilation comes from our lips: "Christ is born! Glorify Him!"

Last year we have prayerfully celebrated the prominent date - the 1020th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus. The Primates and the representatives of all the Orthodox churches of the world, having gathered for the joint prayer in the ancient Kyiv - the mother of all Russian cities -have witnessed their brotherly love and support. It was not only the common history that we have recollected due to the celebration of the anniversary of the Baptism of our people. Having gathered at the banks of the Dnieper, our common baptismal font, where the great orthodox soul of our nation was born, we have experienced together the firmness of our brotherly bonds, the spirit of unity in Christ, which has united all of us. It is important for us to preserve this feeling of brotherly unity today, not to lose that spiritual bestowal that our ancestors obtained from the font of the Dnieper.

The past year also brought mournful event to all of us. His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia had passed away to the Lord. All his life was dedicated to the selfless service to high Christian ideals, love of God and neighbour. He had given himself totally to the service to the Holy Church; he had truly become good pastor to all his numerous flock. The response of the God's people to the death of their Primate proved that the service of His Holiness had touched every Christian heart, leaving no one indifferent. Truly has the words of the Apostle fulfilled: "But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life." (Romans 6: 22).

Let's now turn away from the worldly concerns and worries and listen to the voices of Angels, proclaiming the true unheard-of joy to the world. This good news has brought the greatest spiritual joy to all creation, since today we are given the fulfillment of salvation, expected for ages by many generations of the forefathers, foretold by the prophets and longed to be seen by the righteous. What joy it is for us, and what jubilation it should be for us! Celebrating this day, the Holy Church calls us: "Come and rejoice unto the Lord, telling the true mystery!" (Sticheron of the feast).

Rejoicing with the whole world, with the angels of glory, bowing to the God-infant with the magi, let's rejoice with the holy joy of the Nativity! I wish to the God-loving children of the Holy Orthodox Church peace and joy in the Lord! The angel proclaimed us now "the 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). Amen.

Nativity of Christ
2008 / 2009


† Volodymyr,
Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine,
Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church



Blogger aaronandbrighid said...

Wow! You're a Nativity epistle junkie, aren't you?

12:39 AM  
Blogger David Stone said...

I guess I am. :)

Last Easter I posted all the Paschal Epistles and Messages I could find. There were 8 or 9 of them I think.

10:40 AM  

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