Now is Christ Born! - Nativity Epistle of Archbishop Antony of Geneva and Western Europe

Christ is born, give ye glory, Christ comes from heaven, meet ye Him.

The words of this joyous Nativity .hymn, calling, us to meet Christ Who is come from heaven, do not say that Christ was born nearly two thousand years ago, but that He IS BORN, that is, they tell us of-His birth in the present, time.

How is it that Christ IS BORN now, this year, in our lifetime? Here lies the Mystery of His Church.

All that the Lord Jesus. Christ accomplished for the salvation of us sinners in the thirty three years of His life on earth, years which long ago became history, all this takes place also today, in reality and in-actuality--in His Church, All of the events in the Life of Christ on earth which serve for our salvation, we must perceive with a greater sense of reality, awareness and joy, than His contemporaries, whose Understanding of these events was limited. Those who witnessed Christ's life were, after all, still outside the Church: they did not partake of the grace of God--the Holy Spirit; with the exception of the Apostles, they did not partake of the Body and Blood of Christ, and even the Apostles only did so in the last hour; they were in no position to be able to understand the Mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God; for them, Jesus. Christ was but a Man.

But we, as members of the Church, receive the grace of the Holy Spirit through the Sacrament of Baptism and Chrismation; we partake of Christ in the Mystery of the Eucharist; through the Church there are opened to us the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven. We have been given more..., and more is to be expected of us.

For this reason, the yearly cycle of the Great Feasts of the Church cannot be for us simply a remembrance of some historical events which took place long ago and which have no bearing on us today. The very manner in which we are called to prepare for the Feasts testifies to their importance and their reality in the present. Ordinarily, we prepare to commemorate art historical event by enriching our knowledge of the causes, the details and .the results of the event. For the great Feasts of the Church, however, we must prepare ourselves every year with PRAYER and FASTING-which means to battle with our fallen human nature, to quash our sinful egotism, to purify our hearts and minds. Only after such preparation will the Feast truly become for us the greatest REALITY in this present life; a reality which overshadows all other reality in the world surrounding us, a reality which is beyond this world and beyond time. And it is not only for those children of the Church who fast, but for the whole world, that the Holy Night appears each year as a living and eternal recurrence of that night when the angels first sang: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will among men.

Regardless of the passing of time, the same wickedness of Herod seeks to kill the Christ Child, to kill Him there where He IS BORN, in pure hearts, in souls cleansed by fasting and Prayer. Just as centuries ago when the children of Bethlehem were. killed, each year we continue to see martyrs for Christ. And just as before, Christ IS BORN for very few, for those Who love and seek Him; He remains unseen and unrecognized by the world which lies in evil and which has forgotten its Creator.

In this way, Christ 1S BORN even today in His Church. He IS BORN in my life, for my sake, loving me. Make haste, O Christian, to delight your heart with His love, to find your Saviour in the manger, and there also to find the joy of true communion with Him.

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St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas