2010-10-31-1 Всемирното Православие - PATRIARCHAL AND SYNODICAL EPISTLE FOR THE NATIVITY OF CHRIST

“In him was life; and the life was the light of men.”

(John 1:4)

Dear and beloved in the Lord Children of our Holy Church,

Every year for centuries now the word of the Nativity of Christ passes along over the universe in this radiant and quiet and holy night: Christ is born! He cometh to the world and lived in our midst, His Divine Light illuminating the life of every one of us, inspiring hope and bringing peace and telling us the ultimate truth that nothing stands higher than love. As the age of darkness came to an end, so light was brought unto man’s life, the light of God appearing into a world wearied by sin and lust. “For 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).

He appeared in the form of a babe born into a cave, far from the world of vanity, deep into the darkness of night, surrounded by the shepherds of Bethlehem and their flock. This cave radiated into our world the light of faith and hope and love forevermore, which He had covenanted by His eternal Covenant between Him and every person on earth. And it keeps shining unceasingly even today, bestowing its extraordinary warmth on the hearts and minds of His faithful, that are the ones who bear in mind His words: “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Math. 28:20). So in the night of His physical appearance unto the world we are called once again to bear testimony among men all around the globe that “the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” (John 1:5). Let the world hear once more that born on this day was Christ, the Redeemer of the world and the Savior of every person as well as of the whole universe! And let our testimony be a true one “for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh” (Luke 6:45). Indeed, there is no other night as radiant as this one, for the earnest of our salvation is here in our midst: “Thy Nativity, O Christ, our Lord, hath given rise to the light of knowledge in the world” (Troparion A).

Hymning these words in celebration, we emphasize light being the very gift of knowledge, or of the chance of enlightenment given to man once and for all, as man’s heart and mind had been kept in obscurity by the reign of sin and death for centuries and ages before. The fullness of the Godhead was revealed unto the weary mankind by the Person of Christ, as “through him all things were made”. And obscurity reigned no more, neither did darkness. The age of death came to the day of its conclusion. Men received the promise. The Messiah Who had been promised to the forefathers descended in our midst. “I am the light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). These words Jesus said, and then spoke He again unto them: ‘Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid” (Math. 5:14). We, Orthodox Christians, are the ones who all together substantiate that city, bearing witness with our faith and inalterable trust in the Lord “that the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Even more powerful do these words sound now, on the night of Christ’s Nativity that hath revealed unto all of us the true Light.

Dear brothers and sisters,

The Nativity of Christ marked the beginning of our salvation, it cometh to be the crowning point of the Divine plan. Being bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:20), we are high-ransomed children of the Heavenly Father. Moreover, we are given to take part personally in the salvation bestowed to us from above. When avowing we wish to belong to Christ and substantiating our avowal in our life on earth, we do become the light of the world as Christ Himself described His disciples. Hence, let us never drop out of the summit of the Divine light of knowledge, as it is the shine and radiance of this feast day and it is what we are called upon to raise to the brightest – according to our promise – throughout the ages as long as we await the Lord and His Second Coming in glory. Let us prevent darkness and obscurity quenching our lamps, but rather keep our lamps unceasingly burning, for it was the Lord Himself Who called us upon that! Addressing you all again, both clergy and laity of our own Church, those who live within the borders of the homeland as well as who are far abroad, we give you our Archpastor’s blessing of love on the Day of Christ’s Nativity and we fervently pray to the Great and Good Deliverer to never take away His pleasure from our Christ-loving people, so that always maintained by God’s right-hand, we shall all be thriving in love and godliness to the glory of the God Babe of Christ Who came in our midst!

May the grace and peace of the God Babe born on this holy day as well as the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen!

Many happy returns of the Holy Nativity Feast!

HEAD OF THE HOLY SYNOD

† MAXIM

PATRIARCH OF BULGARIA AND METROPOLITAN OF SOFIA

HOLY SYNOD MEMBERS:

† METROPOLITAN KALINIK OF VRATSA

† METROPOLITAN IOANIKY OF SLIVEN

† METROPOLITAN DOMETIAN OF VIDIN

† METROPOLITAN KIRIL OF VARNA AND VELICKY PRESLAV

† METROPOLITAN JOSEPH OF USA, CANADA AND AUSTRALIA

† METROPOLITAN SIMEON OF WEST AND MIDDLE EUROPE

† METROPOLITAN GREGORY OF VELICKO TURNOVO

† METROPOLITAN NEOPHIT OF ROUSSE

† METROPOLITAN NATHANIEL OF NEVROKOP

† METROPOLITAN IGNATY OF PLEVEN

† METROPOLITAN GALAKTION OF STARA ZAGORA

† METROPOLITAN GAVRIIL OF LOVECH

† METROPOLITAN NIKOLAI OF PLOVDIV

† METROPOLITAN AMVROSY OF DOROSTOL