NATIVITY OF OUR LORD 2016
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This year a polarizing and divisive atmosphere that has become more noticeable since November envelops our celebration of Christís nativity. Indeed post-election anticipation has given rise to shock and despair as well as elation and hope. As Orthodox Christians we cannot ignore this spirit since we cannot pretend that we live our lives apart from it as innocent bystanders.
If we claim to be preparing for the celebration of Christís birth and if we acknowledge that this event expresses Godís desire to abolish the dividing wall between all people then we are presented with a formidable task that first challenges us to discern how we have contributed to this divisive and alienating spirit and to repent of it.
What appears to be an ever-widening gulf between people based on political, social, religious and economic values cannot be ignored. On the one hand we are obliged to discern how over the years we have personally contributed to these divisions. We are also obliged to discern how the Orthodox Church has contributed to these divisions. On the other hand, in the spirit of peace and good will each of us is charged to look upon those who stand on the other side of the divide not as strangers or enemies but as brothers and sisters for whom God has sent his beloved Son in the flesh.
By no means is this an easy task. Like our Savior who emptied himself and took the form of a slave and accepted death on the cross for us and our salvation, we are also called to empty ourselves of selfish ambition and conceit and to truly seek after the saving interest of the other. (Philippians 2:3-11) Without this dynamic there will be no narrowing of the gulf and the Feast will be depleted of its power and credibility.
History teaches us that there was never an ideal time for the Incarnation. Nor has there ever been an ideal time to celebrate it. Yet, from all eternity, God sought to fill time with the time of his kingdom. ďWith all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time to gather all things in him, things in heaven and things on earthĒ (Ephesians 1:8-10) This is the reality we are preparing to celebrate. This is the reality we are called to make our own and to share with those around us.