To all faithful children of the Russian True Orthodox Church
in the Fatherland and in the diaspora
Christ is born; glorify Him!
Christ comes from heaven; come to welcome Him!
Christ is on earth; lift up your hearts!
(Irmos of the 1st Ode, Nativity Canon)
The Holy Orthodox Church always has – and most importantly now – calls upon her faithful children to glorify the Lord of glory, appearing in the flesh and lying in a manger. The Church brings us to the death of Him who comes to save the human race from sin, damnation and death; to the Son of God, Jesus Christ, to lift our minds and hearts from earth to heaven, where the Savior of the world sits on the right hand of God, and makes intercession for us. Christ is exalted, chants the Church, glorify Him. Christ comes from heaven – welcome him. Christ comes to the earth, lift up your hearts.
God the Word appeared in the flesh for the salvation of the world: how can we, the partakers of salvation, not glorify our Savior, when the Angels, who have no need for redemption, sing the glory of God in the highest (Luke II, 14)? Christ is born: glorify Him! Praise the Nativity of Christ, both as a deep and lofty secret of piety, and as a great and precious blessing for the whole world. As a deep secret: for the mystery of the incarnation of the Son of God is one of the highest and deepest secrets of the Kingdom of God. Great is the mystery of godliness, says the Apostle, God appears in the flesh (1 Tim. III, 16). How great is this blessing: for what good may be greater than the salvation of the world? The Apostle Paul calls it the abundant wealth of the goodness of God the Father, and His glorious inheritance for the Saints (Eph. I, 18). How is it possible to praise the Lord? By mouth and deed: by mouth – in a psalm and spiritual songs. By deeds – through Angel-like purity and chastity of the God-like, in living holiness.
Where is that gracious Bethlehem in which it is necessary now to take the Son of God coming from heaven, to worship the Son of Man, lying in the cave of humiliation in the earth, to approach the Unapproachable, to touch the untouchable? Where is that Divine Olivet from which it is necessary to ascend with Jesus Christ and in Christ to heaven, to Heavenly Father? This is the Christian Church, where the mystery of the appearance of God in the flesh is remembered. It is the pious Christian soul in whom Christ is born, in whom the image of Christ’s perfections shines. The Christian church is the beloved village of the Almighty, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, with mystical prayer, for the harvest gathering of God-visited. The pious Christian soul is the living temple of the invisible God and together his beloved daughter, who worships God in the visible temple with spirit and truth. It is comforting for the pious soul, like the bride of Christ, to expect and make most beautiful of all the sons of men in the blessed church, all Christ’s sons, to treat them comfortably, to talk with them, to live with Him and in Him, but for Christ it is kind to see precious adornments of His Bride in the house of prayer, in heavenly virtues, and to teach Her the holy kiss of peace and love – the key to the Holy Spirit. What high fellowship of the Lord with a godly soul! And when is this communion better arranged than in the midst of a prayer offering of the mind and heart to God? Where is it more clearly revealed? Where is it more fully developed, if not in Christian churches, in which the Lord takes His prosperity, in which His glorious name be glorified, in which the priceless sacrifice of His blood is made for the sins of the whole world? If the Lord favors the visible Christian temples, then is it not even more suitable for him that the invisible temples, the godly souls? Therefore, the Apostle Peter exhorts the faithful to turn their souls into spiritual, miraculous temples (I Peter. II, 5), in which the sacrifice of faith and love must be continually offered. And so, being in the visible temple, we must enter with pious attention into the invisible temple – into our souls, glorifying the Lord with our lips, praising Him with our hearts, bringing our property to the altar, sacrificing our souls and bodies, raising our eyes and hands to grief, raising both the mind and heart to God, all thoughts and feelings, all joys and sorrows – to cast before the Throne of the Lamb, may our joy in the Lord be fulfilled.
How can we fulfill this holy desire when we live in a time that cannot be ignored in these joyful days for us? This is the time in which we are destined by God’s Providence to follow our life path – the path of our salvation. This is the time of the retreat of almost all of humanity from Christ, the time of betrayal of Christ. One of the main signs of these last times is a sharp separation of people, and this unprecedented separation is now happening before our eyes. At one extreme is the Church and its holiness, at the other is the loss of any notions of morality, chastity and similar concepts, some terrible, fantastic debauchery. On one part is faith in a loving and merciful God; on the other, hatred of the God of Love, and hatred that becomes, in essence, the content of life. And, peering into the world around us, we ourselves can determine that the separation of people is really taking place, and that, unfortunately, most of humanity is on the side opposite to God and the Church.
However, and more than 2000 years ago, during the incarnation of the Son of God Jesus Christ, there was only a tiny handful of humble people on earth who saw Christ the Messiah in Him, accepted Him and embraced His torment with compassion so deeply and sincerely felt that it was completely reborn internally after the passions of Christ, and sincerely returned to the previous god-likeness. “Christ is born before the fallen restore the image,” – we sing today of this. How many were faithful to him? Compared to the entire population of the earth – very few. But this handful of the faithful, like a mustard seed growing into a large branching tree, spread the faith of Christ throughout the universe. There were enough of them to transform the world. And undergoing inhuman torment on the Cross, the Lord knew that among His followers there would be a handful of faithful who would preserve and increase His Church, and, despite all the malicious tricks of the original murderer, would preserve Her until the end of the age. Therefore, Christ is born today, and therefore He is with us, and therefore we feel His invisible presence in our temples, in our hearts, and we feel His love and warmth in our souls.
When, then, should we most glorify the Lord and Christ the Lord, if not on this memorable day, on which the saving Mystery of the incarnation of the Son of God was revealed to Angels and mankind? Here Christ, King of Glory, is born: glorify the nations! Here Christ, the Lord of the world, brought heaven to earth, and made heavenly earthly things: come to meet him, sons and daughters of the blessed Zion! Christ, the Angel of the Great Council, the Intercessor of the New Testament, dwells on earth until the end of the age of His grace: ascend to heaven – the home of bliss – wanderers and newcomers of the world! Today the world has known, that God is with us. As God is with us, then who is upon us? Who is upon us, if we remain faithful to the Lord and Christ of the Lord?
On this bright holiday of love, peace and joy about Christ Jesus, who was born of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the sake of us, we will sing a Christmas song with the angels:
“Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, goodwill to man!”
A blessed Nativity of Christ to all of you faithful children of the Church of Christ, Congratulations!
Nativity of Christ 2019/2020
+ humble Tikhon
By the grace of God, the Archbishop of Omsk and Siberia,
First Hierarch of the Russian True Orthodox Church