Archbishop Vladimir (ROCOR-Vl): Nativity Epistle

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Archbishop Vladimir (ROCOR-Vl): Nativity Epistle

Beloved of Christ Fathers Brothers and Sisters!

 

Christ is Born – I greet you with this great Feast day of the Nativity of our Lord!

 

In these radiant days the holy Church sings grace-filled festal hymns. Beginning with the feast of the Entry of the Holy Theotokos, until the Apodosis (leave-taking) of the feast of the Nativity we chant the irmoi  (hymns) of the Nativity. These we all recognize by the words of the first song:

 

Christ is born, glorify him. Christ is from heaven, go to meet him. Christ is on earth, be ye lifted up. Sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing out with gladness, all ye people. For he is glorified.

 

With these words our Holy Church emphasizes the direct connection of the Entry of the Theotokos – the beginning, and preparation of God’s chosen Maiden – as a participant and vessel of our salvation – and the Birth of Christ.

With the words “Christ is born glorify Him” we are called not only to glorify Him with our lips but with our entire being, heart and lives, with acts of piety and love. To this speak His holy Apostles: And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1- 14) as well, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus (Acts 3,13) and, For he received from God the Father honor and glory (2 Peter 1-17).

This is a special day of glorifying. As such, we faithful Orthodox Christians are called to glorify the Lord, regardless of illnesses, trials, temptations and misfortunes, we are called to give constant glory: For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory   (2 Corinthians 4,17).

With the words “Christ is on earth, be ye lifted up” we are called to raise our entire heart and mind up to God who descended for us from heaven to earth.

Finally with the last words of this song, “Sing out with gladness, all ye people. For he is glorified!” the holy Church calls us to gladly and joyfully glorify the Lord, forgetting all tribulation, offences and grief.

The gladness and joys in God and those of this world are diametrically opposed. They cannot abide in the heart of man simultaneously because they are different in nature. Worldly joy appears from prosperity and wellbeing, while the joy of God is often founded in suffering.

The Christian is a soldier of Christ, a new creation, for whom suffering brings joy. We glory in our sorrow – by the words of the holy Apostle Paul,And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience (Romans 5,3). Sorrow embitters the old man but the new man rejoices in it. Heavenly joy brings forth far more good fruit than does worldly joy.  Defamation, contempt or persecution for the sake of Christ’s truth is happiness for the Christian. But if we rarely perceive heavenly gladness, we are ourselves at fault, because we too strongly adhere to worldly gladness.

It would seem unnatural that a person could rejoice in sorrow, yet the apostle Paul gives us an example in 2 Corinthians 6,10 where he proclaims:As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things. The grace of God goes beyond the natural order. The apostles rejoiced that they were given to suffer for the name of Christ the Lord (Acts 5,41).

For this reason brothers and sisters, in these holy days of the Nativity we will call on our Lord to grant us His Heavenly Grace – that we may glorify Him with spiritual joy, which will lead us to the eternal joy in our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

+Archbishop Vladimir

 

Nativity, 25 Dec.2012 o.s.