As the sun began to set, the rotunda began to fill with revelers anticipating the commencement of the festivities. At the center of attention stood a tall and stately spruce, already shimmering with lights, awaiting to be decorated with a myriad of ornaments.
This year, His Eminence Archbishop Daniel requested that the children from all the parishes create handmade ornaments to decorate the official tree at the Consistory. Over the weeks packages arrived, small and large, each like a little gift, opened with anticipation to reveal the beautiful handiwork of the tiniest of hands, all for the glory of God.
His Eminence Metropolitan Antony, and His Eminence Archbishop Daniel, were joined in the Rotunda by the Seminarians of the St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary, Consistory Members, and the staff of the Consistory offices, as well as the clergy and faithful who arrived from nearby parishes.
As the Seminarians began to sing “Бог Предвічний” (God Eternal), the hierarchs joined in, followed by the faithful, all the voices intermingling, echoing joyfully off the rotunda walls, and praising the Lord with the words of the traditional and beloved Ukrainian Christmas Carol – “God eternal is born this day, He has come from above, To save all mankind, And was greatly pleased…”
With a broad smile on his face, His Eminence Metropolitan Antony hung wreaths, dripping in glitter, on the branches of the stately tree, as His Eminence Archbishop Daniel scurried up the ladder to decorate the upper branches. Soon, all those gathered, singing, laughing, and smiling at the creations sent in by the children, joined in hanging all the various ornaments ranging from icons, to hand-made manger scenes, wreaths, reindeer, and a wide assortment of angels. What seemed like an overwhelming task, was finished quickly as many eager hands converged upon the tree.
For the final touch, Vladyka Daniel, once again ascended the ladder, and reached up to crown the tree in glory with a shimmering star, which like the Star of Bethlehem shines, and reminds all those who gaze upon it of the coming of the Messiah.
As the tree, resplendent in its new decorations, shimmered and glistened, the adults stood back singing, and gazing in wonder at the ornaments that were created by the youth of the Church. Munching on hors d'oeuvres and scrumptious desserts, everyone lingered, basking in not only the light emitted from the tree, but, in the joy emitted from each other. As the children ran around the tree, shrieking with joy, the adults chitchatted, shared their own childhood memories, and swapped recipes.
Even though the crowds have left, the tree still stands proudly in the rotunda, greeting the many daily visitors to the Consistory. It stands not only as a mere tree, but, as a sign of unity; a sign of that all the parishes, all the faithful, are a living part of the Church. As the tree stands strong, bedecked by the handiwork of many people, from many parishes, so the Church stands strong and is beloved by its faithful.
Contributing ornaments to the tree were many parishes of the UOC of USA, including:
- St. Andrei Parish, Jamaica, NY
- St. Mary Parish, New Britain, CT
- Holy Trinity Parish (Sofia Zharsky), Trenton, NJ
- Protection of Theotokos Cathedral (Anderson Family), Allentown, PA
- St. Andrew Parish, Boston MA
- St. John the Baptist Parish, Portland, OR
- St. Volodymyr Cathedral, Chicago, IL
- St. Nicholas Parish, Charlottesville, VA
- St. Nicholas Parish, Troy, NY
- Sts. Peter and Paul (Theo Nixon), Carnegie, PA
- St. Andrew Cathedral, Silver Spring, MD
- Sts. Peter and Paul Parish, Palos Park, IL
- St. Vladimir Cathedral, Philadelphia, PA
- All Saints Parish, New York, NY
- Holy Trinity Parish (Elizabeth Matlak), Seattle, WA
- St. Mary the Protectress Cathedral, Southfield, MI
The Official Christmas Tree at the Consistory – Decorated! - 12/21/17
Photos by Seminarian Yaroslva Bilohan
Text by Elizabeth Symonenko