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NATIVITY EPISTLE THE RIGHT REVEREND GREGORY BISHOP OF SAO PAULO AND SOUTH AMERICA

Synod of Bishops - Epistles from bishops Thursday, 06 January 2011

NATIVITY EPISTLE
THE RIGHT REVEREND GREGORY
BISHOP OF SAO PAULO AND SOUTH AMERICA

“I bring you good tidings of great joy,
which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day
in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”
(Luke 2:10-11)

Dear loved ones in the Lord, God-loving clergy, brothers and sisters, faithful members of the Holy Russian Orthodox Church Abroad!

There is no one on earth who does not desire happiness, who does not seek it out and who does not thirst after it, but earthly happiness can never completely satisfy any person.  Also, it is always fleeting and often turns into unhappiness and sorrow.  What brings joy to some can cause sorrow to others.  Spiritual joy is not like this!  But where can we find it?  How can we acquire it?  From our Lord God – the joy of the Holy Spirit!  On Nativity night the angels themselves communicated their joy to the shepherds of Bethlehem and through them to all mankind.  And what was this joy?  “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”  Genuine joy shone forth from the lowly Bethlehem to the entire world – Christ is born!

 

Why did Christ descend from the heavens?  “To lift us up to the heavens!”  Through sin, mankind lost paradise.  Christ in His incarnation, His Cross, His Resurrection bestows the heavens upon us!  “We might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:7)  “That we might live through him.” (1 John 4:9)

 

For seventy years before this event, the Prophet Isaiah proclaimed what shall come to pass, “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel, which means “God is with us.’” (Isaiah 7:14)  “God is with us, the unbelievers will understand and be defeated, as God is with us!”  The singing of this glorious prayer during the vigil is a special moment of the service of this feast day as well as Theophany and the Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos.  It proclaims the triumph of the Kingdom of Christ the Messiah and that forces opposed to the Kingdom of Christ may seem frightening at times, but cannot withstand the moment when judgment of God is revealed.  In his time, the Prophet Isaiah foretold the appearance of Emmanuel only to the House of David.  In our day, there is not a place in this world where the Lord Jesus Christ and His impending Second Coming is not preached.

The House of David did not pay heed to the words of the Prophet and did not cease its efforts to join with the heathens.  In our day, there are those who call themselves Houses of the Lord, but they behave like the apostates and atheists who are strangers to the way of the Lord and engage in ceremonies and enter into agreements in the name of the enemy of God, the one who eternally brings ruin to mankind.  With no fear of the judgment of God and in the name of “all-forgiving love,” they go forth to celebrate in places where the law of God is clearly being flouted and where blaspheming God is not considered a crime.

Those who followed the star arrived in time to bow down before the Lord Jesus Christ, now those who carry His Name participate with indifference in unlawful acts and feasts with those who wear the five-pointed star, a symbol of the evil will against the Lord Jesus Christ.

“In every corner of the world hear this – God is with us.  May the mighty be vanquished - God is with us.  We will not fear your terror and will not tremble - God is with us.  We will call upon Him and will be saved by Him - God is with us!”

Let us turn our thoughts to Bethlehem in these holy days, humbly think upon God’s love to mankind, understand the power and immutability of Holy Scripture, and with an innocent faith and passionate love proclaim Christ and God’s world and may the joy of the Holy Spirit dwell in all our hearts!

I congratulate all of you, dear fathers, brothers and sisters and church members, with the joyous feast day of the Nativity of Christ and the coming New Year!

By God’s grace, your humble servant,
+Gregory
Bishop of Sao Paulo and South America
Nativity of Christ 20102011

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