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Papal Letter for the Feast of the Nativity 2000

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My beloved children and brothers in the lands and churches of immigration peace and grace to you from the Lord, congratulating you on the beginning of a new year a new century and a new millennium. Blessed is God Who has brought us to this hour and allowed us to live to witness this historic event and to chant saying, "let us enjoy a fresh start."

Through the birth of Christ the world began a new age that is completely different from all the ages preceding it. This Birth became a separator between two distinguished ages that are (B.C.) before Christ and A.D. (Anno Domini) the year of the Lord.

Through the birth of Christ, salvation was born and we received the grace or sonship and now we can call God Our Fr. Who art in heaven. Hence the divine image returned to us that we had lost through sin and we receive it through the grace of baptism.

The Feast of the Nativity is the beginning of all feasts in the New Testament. It was this feast of which the angel cried out saying "l bring you good tidings of greet joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:10-11)

Celebrating the Feast of the Nativity is not a celebration of the end of our fast nor is it merely the exchange of greetings and it is not a worldly joy that is expressed by certain aspects or appearances but the true joy is to receive the effectiveness of the Nativity in our practical life. The blessing of a new Christmas comes to us by hearing the words of the Holy Bible, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." (Romans 12:2)

Yes, we are not of this world to be conformed to it! Here is what the Lord says to us, "You are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world." (John 15:19) Therefore, do not conform to this world, but may you have your own specific appearance that distinguishes you. As it was said by Saint John the Beloved, "In this the children of God are manifest." (1 John 3:10) Therefore, whoever sees you would say, ‘Truly they are God’s children. They have His Image as God created them according to His Image and likeness.’ (Genesis 1:26, 27)

In celebrating the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, we remember that God has restored to us the divine image. So be firm in it, because you are the children Of God and you most be according to His likeness.

This year, we celebrate two feasts: the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, and also His coming to Egypt. As it was said in the Book of Isaiah the Prophet, "Behold, the Lord rides on a swift cloud and will come into Egypt." (Isaiah 19:1) He mentions in the same chapter, referring to the establishment of our Church saying, "In that day there will be an altar to the Lord in the midst or the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the Lord at its border. And it will be for a sign and for a witness to the Lord of hosts in the land of Egypt." (Isaiah 19:19,20)

Your Church, my beloved children, is the only Church whose establishment was mentioned by name as a prophecy in the Old Testament.  The Lord says at the end of the same chapter, "Blessed is Egypt my people." (Isaiah 19:25)   How beautiful is the sound of this phrase, "My People."  The only people among all the Gentiles that the Lord called as His people were those of Egypt.  Be proud of that and rejoice.

There will be celebrations in all the churches of Egypt in commemoration of this blessed occasion.  The arrival of the Lord to the land of Egypt, accompanied by our blessed Mother, the Virgin Saint Mary and Saint Joseph the carpenter.  The Church also celebrates this event, the arrival of the Holy Family, on the first of June (Coptic, 24 Bashans) and it will be our pleasure to receive you in Egypt, the same Egypt that received the Lord of Glory two thousand years ago, where many miracles and wonders took place.

You may also hold similar celebrations in your churches in the lands of immigration, with publications to announce to all other Churches and denominations that are in your region of this great glory that your Church enjoys.  The Lord chose our Church specifically from amongst all the regions of the world in order to bless her by His presence in it for approximately three and a half years.

Churches and monasteries have been built in all the places that were visited by the Lord of Glory and the other members of the Holy Family.  These buildings are considered amongst the most ancient churches in the whole world and tourists visit them to receive blessings.

We hope to send you some of the publications and ancient icons that are being prepared by the Mother Church to celebrate this holy occasion.

May you all be well my beloved children and may this new millennium be a joyous one for all of you.  May the Lord allow us to hear good news about you at all times.

Be absolved by God’s Holy Spirit. 

Shenouda III,
Pope of Alexandria and
Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark
January 2000

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