Nativity Archpastoral Message 2016
Wonder not at this. This year Christmas is again here – ready or not. And you can’t say that our Church has not tried to warn you. Тhe time of preparation started in the middle of November. Some more. The holy history of God’s dealing with His people, rehearsed in the lessons appointed for the season, comes now to the penultimate event, the announcement of the coming of a Child to the Handmaid of the Lord -Holy Virgin Mary.
Indeed, it happened too long ago. Now we consider the turning of the world upside down as something done, once for all, centuries ago. We equate the way we live with God’s Kingdom; our personal pride blinds us to St. John’s rejection of injustice. We make a fatal mistake of not seeing that God’s devaluation of worldly wisdom and pride is a devaluation of the standards by which we all live. We want to act like Pharisees and still receive the forgiveness of the Publican.
Truth is the very essence of real wealth. If we would allow God’s word to devalue our mistaken standards we might experience a re-evaluation of His Kingdom, which is both present and coming. Instead of hailing the Nativity of Christ with superficial merry making, we must turn from illusion to reality and so become free to work on our real problems.
The Nativity festival we are called to celebrate is just such a health-giving, freeing celebration. The Nativity is the occasion of the great reversal, the through-re-evaluation of the world by God Himself. The world, today, as in the time of Christ’s Birth, is turned upside down, not by humanly sparked revolution, but by divine grace. His Kingdom is at hand, but people today are just as far from the redeeming grace of God as were the people at the time of Jesus’ Birth.
The truth is that only the humble sincerely await the King, Who is coming; the proud see not need for redemption. To be healed, we must first recognize the wound, confess the sin and let the healing light and air of God’s grace reverse the process of decay, replacing it with the healthy tissue of new life. Problems denied, pushed down below the threshold of memory, will not go away. Only the truth heals. Only God’s forgiveness sets us free.
Still the question remains: What is all this to us? Much, in every way. You and I are troubled, too. The age of deep religions experience is never past. God’s Spirit still moves across the face of poisoned waters, of disintegrating cities, crowded expressways, and of broken truce lines. God’s presence hovers over hospitals beds, broken marriages and burned out hopes. His Kingdom comes to us amidst our disturbance and perplexity. The King Jesus, so long hidden, continues to reveal Himself through our need.
So, congratulations, we celebrate anew that strange King’s Birth. How will we welcome Him into our lives? It is in our power to make this a Merry and a Memorable Christmas!
May the Lord grant it!
With love in the coming Savior,
+ Metropolitan JOSEPN