LONDON: January 11, 2023
Nativity Epistle of Bishop Irenei of London and Western Europe
To the Very Reverend and Reverend Clergy, Pious Monastics, and God-fearing Flock of the Diocese of Great Britain and Western Europe
Christ is born! Glorify Him!
The mighty and merciful Lord draws us anew, my beloved brethren, into the great mystery of hope that is His birth in the flesh — the incarnation of our salvation.
A world which lies in increasing peril has an ever greater need for the hope it realises it cannot bestow upon itself. Such are the dark days in which we live. An age of lukewarm faith, defined by the abandonment of the unique and unchanging truth of the Gospel has, unsurprisingly, produced the sure fruits of such apostasy: strife, enmity and, in our day, even most sorrowful bloodshed. Only the truly blind man can look upon the groaning our sin has inflicted upon the world, and the peaks to which it now reaches, and not feel welling up within himself the cry of desperation that arises from the realisation that he has thrown himself into a pit too deep for him to escape.
But there is hope for modern man, if only he will receive it. It is the hope born today in a cave, bearing into the world of contemporary humanity the same truth He bore into the world of our ancestors. He is the hope to which the patriarchs looked and which the prophets foretold; the hope the angels hymn and the martyrs follow. He is the sure hope of humankind, for in Him we behold the Almighty Lord’s merciful response to the darkness we sow: in Bethlehem the despair of man is met face to face with the love of God.
Today, my fellow disciples of Jesus Christ, hope is born. But shall we embrace what now is given? What shall come of us if we respond to the miracle of Christ’s nativity only with a few happy words or songs, but do not open our hearts to what His birth must mean for each of us? Christ God is born today: He is to be followed wholly, completely, without hesitation or apology — even, or rather, especially, in this present age of doubt and relativism. His truth must be the only truth; His way, the only way; His commandments our highest and only law. Christ is born: let all mingling with error cease, and all wandering from truth, and all lukewarm feebleness. Christ is born to make us strong, to make us His; let us therefore be and become what He wishes us to be. This is the way that leads to His Kingdom, and to the ‘peace on earth and goodwill amongst men’ (Luke 2.14) that we, together with the angelic choirs, hymn in these sacred days.
There is hope for modern man, yes, and salvation, and joy, and a way out of even the deepest pit of sin. He is born today in Bethlehem, and awaits to be born anew in every Christian heart. Glorifying that sacred birth, let us seek together the new birth of faith in our hearts, that we may be counted worthy of all God’s promises.
Coveting your holy prayers, and bestowing upon you all the joyful blessing of the newborn Christ,
Bishop of London and Western Europe
Nativity of Christ
25 December 2022 / 7 January 2023