DIOCESE OF AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND: 16 January 2023
Nativity Epistle of Bishop George of Australia and New Zealand
“…and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them,
till it came and stood over where the young child was.
When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and
fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto
him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.“ (Matthew 2: 9-11)
Beloved in the Lord, Clergy and Faithful of the Australian and New Zealand Diocese!
Christ is Born! Glorify Him!
For centuries all of mankind languished in the vale of tears, captive to sin and despair due to disobedience and the loss of the blessed life in the Garden of Paradise, as they awaited the coming of the Sun of Righteousness Who would enlighten those sitting “in darkness and the shadow of death” (Ps. 106:10); Who would come in order to give life to our fallen human nature deadened by sin, and open the path for each of us to eternal life with God, making us children of God by Grace.
In the Gospel narration we read that an angel came to shepherds in the fields near Bethlehem on the night that our Saviour was born and brought them “good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2: 10-11) “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace good will to men.” (Luke 2: 13-14).
The shepherds then hastened to the cave and found the Most Pure Virgin “Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it they made known abroad the saying that was told them concerning this child… And the shepherds returned, glorifying God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.” (Luke 2: 16,17,20).
Later on, Magi came from the East, guided by a star, in order to worship the king of the Jews, bringing Him gifts: gold — because His is a king, frankincense — because he is divine, and myrrh — because he is a man, for his burial.
We hear in the stikhira for Nativity vespers that all creation offers Christ, the New-born Child, thanksgiving: the angels, a hymn; the heavens, a star; the Magi, gifts, the shepherds, their wonder; the earth, a cave; the wilderness, a manger; and we (mankind), the Virgin Mother. As we approach the Great Feast of the Nativity of Christ, I hope that all of us individually offer to Christ a repentant heart, a heart cleansed by the confession of our sins and the reception of the Holy Mysteries, a heart suitable for the Child Christ to dwell. So often we are distracted by the commotion of the “holiday season” in the secular world around us and we neglect to prepare properly for the Holydays during this time of the year. I encourage all of you to make an effort to truly prepare for the Feast of the Nativity: by reading spiritual literature, giving alms to the needy, showing love to your neighbour and praying one for another. If we do this we will be offering worthy gifts to the King of all.
I sincerely greet all of you, the clergy, monastics, parishioners, and all worshippers in the churches of our diocese, with the grace-filled feast which we celebrate today. May the coming New Year be one of peace for all of us, filled with the abundant mercies of our Incarnate Saviour!
With love in the New-Born Christ,
+Bishop George of Sydney, Australia & New Zealand