Nativity Epistle of the Metropolitan of Singapore and South-East Asia, SERGIY to the Most Reverend bishops, clergy, monastics, and all the God-loving flock of the Patriarchal Exarchate of South-East Asia
Most Reverend Archpastors, Venerable Fathers, beloved brothers and sisters!
“Christ is born – Glorify Him! Christ comes from heaven – Meet Him!» — with these words, the Holy Church leads us in to the joy of the Great Feast of the Nativity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, on which I cordially greet you all.
In these days, our thoughts plunge into the recollection of events occurring more than two thousand years ago. In the perception of the people living at that time, the coming to the world of the long-awaited Messiah was conceived as an act of exceptional significance. It seemed quite natural that the Great King should be born in rich palaces, surrounded by many servants, in a festive atmosphere. However, everything happens contrary to human logic.
The Creator seems to say to the people: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways” (Isaiah 55:8). Instead of a palace — a cave, instead of servants — livestock, instead of festivity — a search for some meagre lodging. God reveals Himself in the world as a defenceless, meek Infant, and from His very Birth suffers needs and hardships, sheltering inside a cramped stable meant for animals. All of these circumstances bear witness to the true meaning of Christ the Savior’s earthly ministry, who “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).
When the Lord speaks to us, this often happens quite differently than we may expect. Divine logic is entirely dissimilar from human logic. During past Nativity celebrations, have we considered what trials we will soon have to endure? In the past year, we were deprived of the usual joy of fellowship, faced colossal limitations, difficulties, sorrows and disease. Yet, have we now not begun to better sense and understand the meaning of Apostle Paul’s bold words: “neither death, nor life … nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8: 38-39)?
The Creator reminded us, through the events of this past year: that wherever we are, no matter how difficult the circumstances we experience, that we are always Christ’s, and therefore “not an hair of your head shall perish.” It is only needful for us, according to the words of the Gospel, to not despair, to trust the Creator and “in patience possess our souls” (Luke 21:18-19). Truly, the Lords leads us to salvation in mysterious ways.
The Holy Fathers unanimously agree that enduring calamities and sorrows for Christ’s sake makes the soul of a person strong, giving it “an invincible skill for patience and courage” (St. John Chrysostom. Conversation on the words of the Apostle: and not only so, but we glory in tribulations also). Moreover, the fruits of this, as the wise Paul writes, are experience, which in turn, begets hope. “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us” (Rom. 5:3-5).
The Nativity of Christ is a feast of this bright hope. Quiet, humble, but steadfast hope that the power of God will overcome all unrighteousness and sin. And sо, gazing upon the Divine Infant lying peacefully in the manger, we exclaim together with Blessed Augustine: “My whole hope is in Thy exceeding great mercy and that alone. Give what Thou commandest, and command what Thou wilt” (Confession. Book 10, XXIX). We all are Thine, Lord! Do with us according to Thy mercy!
Glorifying Jesus Christ, who was born this day, may we be courageous and firm, relying on the grace-filled help of the Lord, abundantly sent down to us in the Sacraments of the Church. Let us rejoice, for God is with us! Let us place our trust in the Only Begotten Son of the Father, who for the sake of His great Love for us became man, so that, “being justified by faith, we have peace with God through Him (Rom. 5:1).
I sincerely congratulate all of you, my dear ones, on the radiant feast of the Nativity. “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15, 13). Amen!
Metropolitan of Singapore and South-East Asia,
Patriarchal Exarch of South-East Asia
Nativity of Christ