PERMANENT CONFERENCE OF UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX HIERARCHS BEYOND THE BORDERS OF UKRAINE
Feast of the Nativity of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ 2009
To the Venerable Clergy, Monastics and Faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church beyond the Borders of Ukraine and to our Brothers and Sisters of the Faith in Ukraine:
Peace be with you from the Christ-Child – born of God’s Love for us!
Christ is Born!
Once again, we experience, by the grace of God, the Great Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ in the midst of Winter, bringing to us a Spring-like joy, the joy of the birth of the Infant, “a great joy which will be for all people…for there is born to you this day in the city of David, a Savior, Who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2: 10-11).
Today is born the One whose advent the Righteous men and women of the Old Testament hoped for, the One proclaimed by the Prophets of the nation of Israel, the Creator of the World, the Almighty and Sustaining God is born of the All-Holy Virgin Mary as a weak human child. The Second Person of the Holy Trinity becomes the Son of Man, to make us children of God by Grace, so that we may, with boldness and without condemnation call upon our Heavenly God, as Father. The Son of God descends from the Heaven to raise all to Heaven, to grant us life eternal, “For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His Cross (Colossians 1: 19-20). By His birth the Son of God humbles Himself as the Apostle Paul says: “…being in the form of God…made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant and coming in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:6-7) with endless love for us.
Today heaven and earth rejoice, “the fullness of time has arrived” (Galatians 4:4), anticipated for centuries, promised by God - “So all this was done that it might be fulfilled, which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: ‘Behold, the Virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel’, which is translated ‘God with us.’” (Matthew 1:22) Angels and humans spiritually rejoice. Today we sing with the Holy Church: “Christ is born – glorify Him! Christ has come from Heaven – welcome Him! Christ is on earth – exult Him! (Irmos of the Nativity Matins Canon)
The world, which after the sinful fall of Adam and Eve, was veiled in sadness and darkness and because of sin lost its filial relationship with God, rejoices today for the Son of God, by His nativity, again renews to humanity the path of reconciliation with God, which leads to adoption by God and to Theosis (becoming one with God).
On the eve of this Holy Day, more that 2000 years ago, the new Bethlehem star shone above the world to guide the Wise Men from the East to the new-born Christ the Savior in a Bethlehem cave. As the Evangelist Matthew records, among the first to arrive and welcome the new-born God-man were the Wise Men from the East, “who saw His star and came to worship Him” (Matthew 2:2). Saint John Chrysostom comments that the star of Bethlehem was not an ordinary star, for it moved not as do other stars in the firmament, from east to west, but from the north of Jerusalem to the south to Bethlehem; the wise men from the east saw it throughout the day and the night, until it stood over the Bethlehem cave, “where the young child was.” (Matthew 2:9)
Saint John Chrysostom states that this was not an ordinary star, but an invisible power, which appeared in the form of a star. Other Holy Fathers note that it was the Archangel Gabriel, who assumed that form of a star and who, after the Wise Men worshipped and presented gifts to the new-born Christ the Savior, appeared to them in a dream in his true form, warning them not to return to Herod.
More than 2000 years ago the star of Bethlehem guided the Wise Men to worship the newborn Savior and today that star guides all of us to our parish churches to worship Him, Who is “the Way, the Truth and the Life.” (John 14:6) For more than 1020 years this star of Bethlehem has enlightened the way traveled by our God-loving Ukrainian people in Ukraine and beyond her borders. This path of life in Christ, followed by our people was at times similar to the times of martyrdom experienced in the early ages of Christianity. For over 70 years the satanic Communist empire sought to replace the star of Bethlehem with its red star, but the light of the star of Bethlehem never did and never will grow dim and will never cease to enlighten the way traveled by our God-loving nation for “God is with us”, Who is born today in Bethlehem of Judea.
We wholeheartedly greet all of you – our spiritual children and our brothers and sisters in the Faith and by blood lineage, who reside in Ukraine and in the Diaspora, with the great feast of the Nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and we pray that the blessings of the new-born Christ the Savior will remain with you at all times unto the ages of ages.
In His abundant Love and with great Joy,
Metropolitan – Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and in Diaspora
Metropolitan – Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada
Archbishop – Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA
Archbishop – Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Diaspora
Archbishop – Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada
Archbishop – Ukrainian Orthodox Church, South America Eparchy
Bishop – Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada
Bishop – Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada
Bishop – Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA
(Ukrainian and English Languages Archpastoral Letter in PDF format)