Festal Letter for the Glorious Feast of the Nativity 2007

My Beloved, the Blessed Children of the Holy Church,

Today, our souls rejoice as we celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Chris, Who came to our world to grant peace to the world and goodwill and joy to its inhabitants. Therefore, at His birth, the angels sang, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.” (Lk. 2:14)

Peace was granted to the world and goodwill to its inhabitants, because the enmity ended and the middle wall of separation was broken. To the earth that was cursed and its inhabitants, who have sinned, a great light has shone, as it is written, “The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.” (Matt. 4:16)

What is this great light? And what is this great joy? Tonight, let us joyfully listen to the good tidings of the angel to the shepherds and to us, as well, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great 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.” (Lk. 2:10-11)

My Beloved Brothers and Sisters, In this age of ours, which I call “the age of fear”, we need to hear this message, “Do not be afraid.”

In this age of globalization and technological progress, fear has become rampant in the world. Sin is widespread and it utilizes all technological means including the television, the internet, the videos, etc… to surround a person struggling to live in purity and holiness. Violence is widespread and the arena of war against terrorism is everywhere and affecting everyone.

In this age, killing by means of explosive cars and suicide bombers is in the headlines of almost every news station.

In this age, drugs and immorality make every family fear for her children, even from the neighbors.

In this age of terrorism, any strange behavior raises one’s fear level from those around him, especially at airports and in public places.

There are many more examples, and you are probably more aware of them than me. But the question is: In this age of fear, how do we become fearless?

However, we must first ask: When did humanity started to know fear?

Humanity started to have fear with the knowledge of sin. Man became aware of fear when he knew sin, as we see with Adam, who became afraid for the first time after he sinned, and he told God, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” (Gen. 3:10) Cain, as well, after he committed sin and killed his brother, he also became fearful and told God, “My punishment is greater than I can bear!” (Gen. 4:13)

As a result of fear entering into man’s life, an inner conflict developed, which is a conflict with the old man. This is best described by St. Paul, when he wrote, “But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7:23-24)

During this “age of fear”, the cry of humanity is: Who will save us? The angel is saying, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great 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.” (Lk. 2:10-11) We respond with St. Paul the Apostle and say, “I thank God – through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom. 7:25) Indeed, “the love of Christ compels us.” (2 Cor. 5:14)

Christ came to save us from fear by liberating us from the power of evil and granting us a new life. Our Lord Jesus Christ died for us, so we can live a holy life for, “He died for all, that those who live should live no longer to themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” (2 Cor. 5:15) “God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Cor. 5:18)

My Beloved Brothers and Sisters,

God has reconciled us to Himself through our Lord Jesus Christ and has liberated us from the power of evil, and consequently has freed us from bondage to fear. The “age of fear” makes us look up to our Good Savior and hear His compassionate and cheerful voice saying, “It is I; do not be afraid.” (Jn. 6:20)

As children of God, we are obligated in this age to perform our responsibility towards the world. God has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18), which in turn makes us “ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.” (2 Cor. 5:20)

Our mission as ambassadors of Christ inviting the world to be reconciled to God depends on: 1. Witnessing to the truth: Political and social reconciliations are based on compromising solutions. Whereas, Christ’s reconciliation was based on convicting sin and abolishing evil.

2. Practicing truth: Christ called us to be salt to the earth and light to the world, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Fr. in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16)

3. Loving by deeds and in truth: Evil can not be overcome by evil, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Rom. 12:21) The world needs loving souls, who lead others to reconciliation with God, through a message of loving deeds, as St. John wrote, “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” (1 Jn. 3:18)

My beloved, today our Good Savior is calling us to be His ambassadors, to call people to be reconciled with Him. Which one of us will join Isaiah the Prophet in saying, “Here am I! Send me.” (Is. 6:8)

Let us pray that God will move our hearts to be ambassadors for Christ, imploring the world to “be reconciled to God.” (2 Cor. 5:20)

Let us pray for peace in the world, peace to the Church, and to keep for us the life of our beloved father, H.H. Pope Shenouda III.

Wishing you many happy returns.
Bishop Serapion