Come, believers, let us see where Christ has been born. Let us follow where the star guides with the Magi, kings of the East. Angels sing praises there without ceasing. Shepherds abiding in the fields offer a fitting hymn, saying: Glory in the highest to Him Who has been born today in a cave from the Virgin and Mother of God, in Bethlehem of Juda (Kathesma of the Nativity)
To the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of Parish Councils, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Members of Philanthropic Organizations, the Youth and Youth Workers, and the entire Orthodox Christian Family of the United States of America.
Beloved Faithful in Christ,
With the Magi, the kings of the East, each of us is invited to embark on a lifelong journey to meet the Savior—the Son of God, born in the flesh by the Virgin. Our High Priest, Jesus Christ, has shared in our humanity, and thus sympathizes with us. The Lord of lords and King of kings (1 Tim 6:15) assumes flesh and becomes man under some of the harshest conditions: He is born in an uninviting cave; He is lain in a cold manger; and days after His birth, He is forced to seek refuge in foreign lands. Because Christ has endured suffering in the flesh, we are now granted absolute comfort!
The encounter between God and man does not occur in shopping centers, Christmas markets, or ornate storefronts. Such festive places certainly bring a smile to our faces, especially to our children, but they fail to offer us salvation. Worth more than a precious ornament, and more valuable than fragrant perfumes, God’s mercy is freely offered to the world by the birth of the Son of God.
Beloved faithful, as we go about our daily lives in our blessed country where we enjoy freedoms and liberties, we are invited to noetically enter the grotto of the Nativity and with our physical eyes gaze upon the homeless who suffer from the elements and see in them Christ wrapped in swaddling clothes. And as we join the angelic hosts in doxology, we are to give voice to the marginalized and destitute. Perhaps most importantly, let us listen to the cries of the countless children who are misguided and abused, and embrace them as the Christ-child Himself.
During our most recent meeting, the Hierarchs of the Assembly had the opportunity to reflect upon the condition of our youth in America. As we listened to expert reports and data from professionals in the fields of youth ministry and emerging leadership, and as we engaged in open discussion, we acknowledged that more can and must be done for our children and young adults. Therefore, as we gather to celebrate the Nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, please consider how you might be part of this work.
Together with my brother Hierarchs of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States, I extend blessings and prayers that God will bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work (Cor. 9:8). Have a joyous Christmas celebration and a blessed New Year, 2018.
With love in Christ, the incarnate God
+Archbishop Demetrios of America
Chairman of the Assembly of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the United States of America