A Sermon on the Feast of the Nativity of Christ 2013
By Metropolitan Moses
Christ is born! Glorify Him!
In this joyous season we celebrate the appearance of Truth incarnate upon the earth, of the Timeless One Who entered time for our sakes. During this feast, we hear the marvellous hymns of the Church proclaiming this spiritual reality revealed by our merciful God in words that express something that is beyond the mind of man.
“For our sake is born a young Child, He that existed before the ages as God” (Kontakion for the Nativity of Christ).
“The cave is a heaven; the Virgin, a cherubic throne; the manger, a space, wherein the Uncontainable One hath reclined. Him do we praise and magnify” (Ninth Ode of the Katavasiae for the Nativity of Christ).
In this feast we celebrate the fulfilment of the purpose of the creation of the ages[i], the creation of the physical universe and time, the creation of this our earth and all that is therein, the varied plant life and animals, and the highest of God’s physical creation, man.
The physical creation was made for man and man was created to commune with God. Yet, our first parents thwarted God’s plan and voluntarily hearkened to the falsehoods and lies of the Slanderer and broke this communion and were cast out. Nonetheless, the Unapproachable sought by all means to heal the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve. In order to accomplish this healing He bowed the heavens and came down, and was Incarnate for our sake so that we might encounter Him and be united with Him.
Saint Paul proclaimed this mystery to the first Christians when he wrote, “When the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we should receive the adoption of sons” (Gal 4:4-5).
We, the small, the limited, and finite, encounter the Timeless, the Infinite, and Unapproachable One, Who came to make us His own. He came to adopt us as sons and daughters of the Most High, yea, and more -- He came to commune with us and to make us members of His Body.
God is with us! This should be our constant meditation. God the Word became the God-Man for our sake; and if we are faithful, we become “…partakers of the Divine Nature,” (2Peter 1:4) as Saint Peter proclaims.
Let each of us marvel at the gift of God’s calling for us to be Christians in these last times, at how He granted us the knowledge of His Truth in this age of falsehood, error and unbelief. Let us not marvel only, but let us respond. We respond by remaining steadfast in our Orthodox faith and way of life, true to our Orthodox Christian cultural worldview.
The warfare today is a war of ideas, a culture war. Unbelief wars against belief. Secularism wars against Divine Revelation. Pagan deception wars against Christian Truth.
As Christians, we understand that Truth is a Person, Truth has become Incarnate. We commune with Timeless Truth, He Who existed from before the ages. As Truth is related to the Person of our Lord and God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, so also is falsehood related to the Slanderer, the father of lies, (John 8:44) that is, the Evil One.
We seek to commune with Truth and the Spirit of God and yet, alas, our modern day culture has rejected Christ. “The spirit of this age” can be described as an attitude that rejects godliness and also a person, the father of lies, the antichrist. This spirit is the same deceiver and slanderer who caused our first parents and the whole human race to fall.
How then, are we to live? We must be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves,” (Matt 10:16) that is, we must be aware of the devices of the evil one, without becoming evil.
This war of ideas is sometimes subtle and sometimes not so subtle. We are confronted daily with hedonism and anti-Christian morality in the media and government schools. This is an obvious assault on Christian values.
There are more subtle struggles with the spirit of this age that we must recognize. For example, parents desire to offer what they perceive as opportunities for their child in his early life and choose to involve him in activities that take place on a Sunday morning or afternoon on a regular basis.
Those of us who are older remember that, in the not too distant past, in North America there were no activities for school children that would regularly intrude into Sunday Church activity in a given city or town. This relatively new way of managing time is the result of a change in the local culture. The former Protestant Christian culture has all but disappeared and Scientific Naturalism, which assumes that there is no God, now dominates our culture. A life without regard to God is part of the spirit of this age.
Such “opportunities” as the one described above which are offered only on a Sunday must be recognized for what they are: an intrusion of the spirit of this age into the Christian family.
This is only one example of the subtler aspect of the culture war. If we are to remain faithful to our Saviour, we must be aware of and calibrate the intrusions of the spirit of this age into the Christian family. Materialism, hedonism and spiritual insensitivity intrude into one’s life in small ways at first.
We are the Israel of God. We participate in the life of the Christ Who was prophesied from Old Testament times. We live in the midst of the nations, but we are separate from them. We must think differently from those outside of the Church. We must come up with our own pastimes and preserve our own Christian culture, lest our children be swallowed up by the surrounding culture of a life without God.
We must preserve within ourselves “the mind of the Church” and reject the spirit of this age. Our God had done great and marvellous things so that we might be saved. We need to attend to the small things in order to cooperate with Him. We must bring to mind the purpose of our being, the purpose for which the world was created. We were created so that we would commune with our Lord and God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
May your families be filled with the joy of the feast, the words of the Holy Scriptures, and the “Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs,” appropriate to these days of rejoicing. May God bless you and your families and may He give you all wisdom so that you reject the spirit of this age and embrace the Spirit of God. Amen.
Christ is Born! Glorify Him.
Your fervent suppliant unto the Lord,
+Moses, of Toronto
Iftar, refers to the evening meal when Muslims break their fast during the Islamic month of Ramadan. Iftar is one of the religious observances of Ramadan and is often done as a community, with people gathering to break their fast together. Iftar is done right after sunset.
We report the following unchanged as it was published:
"The leaders of the Armenian, Roman, Jewish and Syrian communities of Turkey sat around the fasting Iftar dinner in the Beyoglu district of Istanbul." Read more...
Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox Church in Tucson, AZ, is a beautiful mission parish near downtown Tucson, a city in southern Arizona. It was started in 1997 by Father John Bockman, who was a missionary priest formerly serving missions in Tennessee and Massachusetts since 1990. Read more...
Q. Are the prayers in the blue prayer book [A Prayerbook for Orthodox Christians by the Holy Transfiguration Monastery —ed.] compulsory for everyone? I mean their morning prayers and the service of Small Compline. My confessor gave me a special rule but wasn’t clear about whether this replaced the book prayers or was in addition to them. Read more...