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The Christmas Message of Bishop Elisei of Sourozh to the Clergy and Faithful of the Sourozh Diocese

Beloved in the Lord,
reverend fathers and pious flock,
dear brothers and sisters!

By the mercy of God once more there resounds in our hearts the angelic song: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men’ (Lk. 2, 14)

We stand before the incomprehensible mystery of our salvation in solemn piety. God, Who holds all things in His right hand and is glorified by the ranks of angels, is born on earth as an Infant and received by a cave, appearing to us as the example of love and humility.

"Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God" (Rev. 12, 10) and, moved in heart, the Christian world comes to worship the Divine Infant Who lies in a manger, the God of Love Who has appeared on earth, the Word Who is without words. From all the ends of the earth rings out in victorious celebration the triumphant news "God is with us!", the souls of men are comforted in hope and trepidation and the world, wearied by destruction and disorder, wars and conflicts, offers to the Maker of Peace its ardent prayers, that love might be increased and all manner of division and enmity overcome, that "the Kingdom of this world might become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ" (Rev. 11, 15).

In the whole history of mankind the truly unearthly greatness of the event celebrated this day will never diminish. The mystery of salvation, incomprehensible to the mind, is fulfilled – God has appeared in the flesh and the true Light – Christ our God, has shone forth to the world, illuminating our hearts and filling them with Grace and peace.

Peace, the peaceful reconciliation with God – this is the most important thing bestowed upon us through the Incarnation of the Son of God. The barrier that separated man from God has been laid low. Human nature, contaminated by the wound of sin, receives healing through the Incarnation of God and once more we freely access the Grace of God. We must treasure and preserve this peace which has come down from heaven to earth and, worshipping Christ the Divine Infant, we must make every effort to reveal though our lives the beauty and salvation of Christ’s teaching, zealously fulfilling the Gospel commandments of peace and love.

At Christmastide the world enters into the New Year of Divine goodness. Contemporary mankind, which has lost its faith and suffers an inexpressible melancholy which comes from its own emptiness, once more seeks out eternal truth, indestructible spiritual values, once more is in need of the living preaching of the apostles "not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power"

Inspired by the spirit of apostolic mission and the gift of preaching, Metropolitan Antony of Sourozh said: «Christ has opened to us a love, that the old world did not know, and the contemporary world, just like the ancient world, fears so much. This is the love which agrees to be hurt, empties itself, is generous, sacrificial, the love which gives not only what it has, but also gives its very self». Only faith, hope and sacrificial love will help us and our neighbour to overcome the temptations and seductions of sin. In order to withstand the enemy of the human race and the pernicious spirit of the age we must join together with one another, with peace and harmony among us, uniting our feeble spiritual forces with the grace and strength of the Church of Christ.

A visible manifestation of the active and healing love of Christ can be seen in the overcoming of the pernicious division of the two parts of the Russian Orthodox Church and the restoration of eucharistic communion with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. This event is especially joyful for us who live outside Russia, where now, with one heart and one mouth, we glorify the Divine Infant, born this day.

Last September our Cathedral was visited by the Wonderworking «Sovereign» Icon of the Most Holy Mother of God, which appeared in Russia at the time of terrible troubles and disorder. And in November our Cathedral and other Russian parishes in Great Britain and Ireland welcomed the Wonderworking Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God «of the Sign», which was preserved during the years of atheism by the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. Both these significant events have done much to strengthen us, showing that Divine Mercy and the intercession of the Most Holy Sovereign Lady and Birthgiver of God abides with us without fail, preserving the Sourozh Diocese from disorder and misfortune.

Fathers, brothers and sisters, beloved in the Lord, faithful children of the Russian Orthodox Church, who live in Great Britain and Ireland, with my whole soul I congratulate all of you on the Great and Saving Feast of the Nativity of Christ and the New Year!

In my prayers I wish that the angelic glorification of Him Who was born in Bethlehem, the Divine Infant Christ the Saviour, may not cease to resound in our hearts, for He bestows upon us the joy of Divine communion and the knowledge of the ineffable love of God. And so our weakness will be made good by Divine might, our untruth will be effaced by Divine Truth, our darkness will be shone through by Divine light and sin will be crushed by Divine holiness!


The Nativity of Christ

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