Christmas, 2003

Nativity Epistle of Metropolitan Laurus,

First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit!

In its hymns for the Nativity of Christ, the Holy Church says of the incarnation of God the Word: “He became man in His love for mankind” (sticheron on “Lord, I have cried...” Tone 2).

It is precisely this love for mankind which moved our Lord Jesus Christ, the second Hypostasis of the Holy Trinity, to be born of the Virgin in the lowly cave of Bethlehem. The Lord assumed flesh, not for the salvation of some abstract humanity, but for the salvation of each of us individually.

All of us are, as children, dear to our heavenly Father, so dear that He not only took upon Himself the “guise of a servant,” but endured all the afflictions of a life of poverty and wandering for the sake of our salvation, enduring mockery, torture and death on the Cross.
The voluntary sufferings of our Savior are the highest proof of His divine love for each of us. †His love is ever efficacious, for His very nature is love, and at any given moment it is knocking at the heart of every lost man.

The Lord has told us that there will be great joy in heaven over a single penitent sinner.
Let us pay Him back with repentance for His love for mankind, and we will share His ineffable joy in eternity with the inhabitants of heaven. †Then will no man take our joy from us (Jn. 16: 22).

The Lord came to earth to save us from slavery to sin, the devil and death; He came that we might inherit and share with Him a “joy fulfilled” (Jn. 17: 13).

The day of the incarnation of Christ is the most joyous day in the history of mankind, for “today He Who is without beginning beginneth; the hosts of heaven rejoice, and earth and men are glad” (sticheron on the Praises). †And we also are called to participate, having cleansed ourselves of all defilement of flesh and spirit in the mystery of repentance, and united ourselves at the divine Table with the Lord Who loves mankind.

Now, as never before, the time has come for the children of the Church Abroad to intensify their prayers for us, their pastors, that, with the help of God, we may not commit any errors at this fateful time for the Church, but may continue to steer the ship of the Church to the safe harbor of our common salvation.

Dear archpastors, pastors and flock, I greet you warmly on the joyous feast of the Nativity of Christ. †Amen.

+Metropolitan Laurus
Nativity of Christ, 2003