The Holy Nativity Feast of the Lord Jesus Christ is celebrated with great joy all over the world in different cultures, languages, and traditions. In the East, it coincides with the beginning of a new year and in the West, it is associated with the end of the old. The birth of Christ marks the new era of grace with love, peace, joy, and the end of bondage, enmity, and misery. Given gifts by the wise men to represent His life, gold for His kingdom, frankincense for His priesthood, and myrrh for His suffering, Almighty God gave us Himself, born in a manger to a young virgin girl. Thus, we praise Him in the Friday Theotokia, saying, “He took what is ours and gave us what is His”. The eternal God came to give us eternal life. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).
The eternal God came to give us His peace, not as the world gives and retrieves it again or changes the conditions or mocks it. His peace is true, consistent, and everlasting. Prophets foretold it (Isaiah 9:6), angels proclaimed it (Luke 2:14), and He said it plainly (John 14:27). His peace is our life compass that guides us throughout our days on earth. His peace deters us from anger, envy, and strife with each other. Because His peace is so profound, we must raise our eyes to heaven above the calamities on earth. Thus, the wise men were guided to the manger by the star high in the sky and the shepherds learned of the birth of the Saviour through the angels in the sky. Let us lift up our eyes, our minds, and our hearts to Him. His peace will endure and be everlasting because He is the eternal God.
The eternal God came to give us freedom, “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14). Our freedom is from sin and its horrid outcomes that aggravates its followers and impairs their status. Yes, we may trip and even fall in sin, but through Christ, we rise, we repent, and we are restored. Sin’s strike is weakened and captive to Christ’s mercy and grace. Let us use this liberty responsibly to share the truth about our eternal God who bowed the heavens to be among us.
The eternal God came to be among us. From His infancy, He shared in our poverty and disadvantages and endured an intense journey seeking refuge from a brutal ruler. He continues until now to share in all our struggles even through this fierce pandemic. Pained by the illness and loss of many, we are not dismayed by this plague. All solutions and remedies are in His holy hands. Our churches are in our hearts and in our homes as we patiently await their complete reopening. We are comforted by a loving and eternal God who is empathetic and omnipotent, “but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7).
The eternal God came to make us heirs of His kingdom as His own children and told us to call Him, “Father.” Many gifts our eternal God came to give us, but the greatest is Himself. What is there in life that parallels this great love and what can undermine it? There is no greater love and no plague nor pestilence that can eliminate it for our eternal God was manifested in the flesh and came to us.
“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness:
God was manifested in the flesh,
Justified in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Preached among the Gentiles,
Believed on in the world,
Received up in glory” (1 Timothy 3:16).
Christ is born! Let us glorify Him!
God bless you.
His Grace Bishop Youssef is Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States (www.suscopts.org)
7 January 2021