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Festal Letter for the Glorious Feast of the Nativity 2001

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” The Inconceivable has been touched And the Invisible has been seen”
-The Wednesday Theotokia

My Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It is my pleasure to wish all of you a Blessed Feast of the Nativity of our Savior Jesus Christ and a Happy New Year.

Today, the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ gives us joy and gladness, because through the incarnation of the Son, the Word, God has become Emmanuel, i.e. God is with us.

In the beginning, God created man to be with Him; He created him in His image and likeness and placed him in the Garden of Eden. God used to meet with man and talk to him without any barriers, and man was at peace with the whole creation. We find the details of this beautiful picture in the second chapter of Genesis. But with the fall of man, his nature became corrupted, his image became distorted, and he became separated from God. Originally man, who was created from nothing, was given life by the grace of being united with the Word. St. Athanasius describes this in his book, The Incarnation of the Word, by saying, ” Though humans were by nature subject to corruption, their union with the Word made them capable of escaping from the natural law, provided that they retained the beauty of innocence with which they were created.” However, sin separated man from God and made him subject to death. The voice of God became a source of fear for man, making him escape and hide, as written, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” (Gen. 3:10) The fall made man hear a curse instead of a blessing, as written, “Cursed is the ground for your sake.” (Gen. 3:17)

Consequently, man became separated from God and fear ruled over his relationship with God. As man increased in sin, he became more distant from God.

After the great exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, the mountain in the Sinai Desert was completely filled with smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire and the people could not go up Mount Sinai to see the Lord. (Refer to Ex. 19:18-23)

Yet, because of His love for man, God did not leave man distant and in fear of Him. Instead, by His incarnation, God came to man, demolished the middle barrier and destroyed the old enmity, thus reconciling the earthly with the heavenly. In the mystery of the Incarnation, the Son of God, the Word, took flesh from the Blessed Virgin, the Theotokos, and made it one with His divinity. As a result of His incarnation, God reconciled the earthly with the heavenly and made the two into one, and restored man’s communion with those in heaven. Instead of that fearful sight of the mountain burning with fire, full of clouds, darkness, and thunder, that even Moses said that he was fearful and trembling, now St. Paul was able to say in Hebrews, “But you have come to Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an immeasurable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.”
(Heb. 12:22-24)

My beloved brothers and sisters,

We rejoice today because through the incarnation of God the Word, His great light has shone upon us, we, who are sitting in darkness and the shadow of death. We can now touch the Inconceivable and see the Invisible.

In the Wednesday Theotokia, we rejoice and praise God saying:

 

  • The Galilee of nations, who are sitting in darkness and shadow of death, the great light has shone upon them.
  • God, Who rests in His saints, took flesh from the Virgin for the sake of our salvation.
  • Come, behold, wonder, and praise. Sing joyfully, because of this Mystery, which has been revealed to us.
  • For the One, Who is without flesh, took flesh, and the Word took Body. The One, Who has no beginning, began, and the Infinite has become temporal.
  • The Unapproachable has been touched, and the Invisible has been seen. The Son of the Living God truly has become human.
    Indeed, how great is the honor that has been bestowed upon us to see the Invisible, touch and partake of the Inconceivable! As a result, we joyfully praise God in the Monday Psali saying:
  • You are surrounded by the Cherubim and Seraphim, who cannot see You.
  • Yet, we see you everyday on the altar and we partake of Your honored Body and Blood.May our Good Lord, Who has given us this great blessing by His incarnation, grant us genuinely repentant hearts, so we can partake of His Honored Body and Blood for our salvation and remission of sins.

    Let us pray that the joy of our Lord’s incarnation bless us, so that the world, with all its troubles and problems, cannot take away this joy from us.

    Let us pray for the peace of the Holy Church and that God may preserve the life of our beloved father, H.H. Pope Shenouda III, for many years.

    Wishing you all many happy returns

    Bishop Serapion
    Servant of the Diocese of Los Angeles

     

 

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