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Festal Letter for the Glorious Feast of the Nativity 2003

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“And the glory which you gave me I have given them” (Jn. 17:22)

My Beloved, the Blessed Children of the Holy Church,

It is my pleasure to wish all of you a blessed and joyful Feast of the Nativity. Today, as we celebrate the mystery of the Incarnation, we are indeed celebrating the glory, which we received by the incarnation of God the Word.

Through the Incarnation, the second Hypostasis of the Holy Trinity, God the Word, was united to our human nature. The Only-Begotten Son, Who is born of the Fr. before all ages, took complete human body through the Holy Spirit and the Holy Virgin Mary, and in the fullness of time, He was born of the Blessed Virgin Mary for our salvation.

In His deep love for us, God took our human nature, except sin, in order to make us “partakers of the divine nature.” (2 Pet. 1:4) He took what is ours and gave us what is His.

St. Gregory Thaumaturgus (the Wonder Worker) wrote, “The Word of God was made man on account of our salvation, in order that we might receive the likeness of the heavenly, and be made divine after the likeness of Him Who is the true Son of God by nature.”

What is the Glory We Received by the Incarnation of God the Word?

1. Through the Incarnation of God the Word, we received the glory of the knowledge of God. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Logos, the Mind and the Wisdom of God, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Col. 2:3) After the Fall, man was separated from God. Consequently, his knowledge of God became distorted, incomplete, and inaccurate. However, with the Incarnation of God the Word, man came to know God in truth, for “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, Who is in the bosom of the Fr., He has declared Him” (Jn.
1:18), because Christ is “the true Light which gives light to every man.” (Jn.
1:9) Our Lord Jesus Christ revealed to us the love of God, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (Jn. 3:16)

Through the Incarnation, God was united to man; he became no longer regarded as a distant God abiding behind the mountains or an aloof God elevated above mankind. Instead, God became close to man, and shared his flesh, able to feel his pain, heal his sickness, and relieve him of his troubles.Through the Incarnation, God humbled Himself and came down to man, and His name became “Emmanuel”, i.e. God is with us.

Through the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, He manifested to us the true name of God, “I have manifested Your name to the men.” (Jn. 17:6)

Through the Incarnation, we received the glory of the knowledge of God and communion with Him, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life”
(1 Jn. 1:1); “That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Fr. and with His Son Jesus Christ.” (1 Jn. 1:3)

Through the Incarnation, we realized that eternal life is actually attained through knowledge of the true God, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom You have sent.” (Jn. 17:3)

2. Through the Incarnation of God the Word, we received the glory of the life of holiness. By His Incarnation, the Word of God sanctified our human nature and gave man the grace to be able to live a perfect life. In His prayer to the Fr., our Lord Jesus Christ said, “And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.”
(Jn. 17:19)

By His incarnation, death, and resurrection, our Lord Jesus Christ liberated man from bondage to sin calling him to a life of holiness and perfection. The members of the body that were previously instruments of sin became members that have the ability to be instruments of righteousness for God, “And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead; and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.”
(Rom. 6:13)

Today, as we celebrate the mystery of the Incarnation, let us examine ourselves. Are we truly celebrating today the glory of the life of holiness, which Emmanuel our God has called us to? With St. Paul the Apostle, we have to ask ourselves, “How shall we who have died to sin live any longer in it?” (Rom. 6:2)

3. Through the Incarnation of God the Word, we have been given the glory of sitting with Christ on His Throne. Emmanuel our God says, “To him who overcomes, I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Fr. on His throne.” (Rev. 3:21)

Our Lord Jesus Christ prayed to the Fr. saying, “Fr., I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” (Jn. 17:24)

As we listen to these precious and magnificent promises, our tongues are speechless and words cannot express the joy and happiness that fill our hearts today. Indeed, the Incarnation of our Lord opens to us the path to glory. Are we ready to walk on this road? Which do we love more, the glory of men or the glory of God?

May our Lord Jesus Christ, Who was incarnate for our salvation, grant us the power to struggle and be victorious so we may have a share in His divine glory.

We pray that every soul may know “the way, the truth, and life.”
We pray that our Lord will grant us to overcome and sit with Him on His throne.
We pray for our beloved Church and our beloved father, h.h. Pope Shenouda iii.
We pray for the peace of the world, for the country in which we live, our country of origin, and for our rulers.

Wishing you many happy returns.

Bishop Serapion

 

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