A Christmas Message
Written by Rev. Fr. Joice Pappan
“Glory to you, the Self-Existing Child, the Only Begotten from the Father, who manifested from the holy and virgin womb, while being with your Father and your Holy Spirit as three undivided holy hypostases in the number of essences – who are one essence and who do not come under number” (Portion from the Sedro of the Evening prayers of the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord)
By the Grace of God, we are once again privileged to celebrate another Christmas where the Church and all her children rejoice on the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As the song goes, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” and with the recent unusual high temperature, it’s been a great time thus far. This is no doubt a time of expectation. We are looking forward to the great gifts from our family and friends, some time off from work and of course to indwell in some good dining after this advent lent. But despite all of this, we must ask ourselves, what does Christmas truly mean to us? As we all know, Christmas is the celebration of Christ’s birth, but what gift do we offer Him today? This is the one birthday where we forget to give a present to the person celebrating His birth. As our guest Achen on Family Night said, Christmas is the birthday of Love. We give presents to those who we love. Today we recall the great love God had for his creation when he sent His own Son as a living sacrifice for the world. Which Father would do this? Giving his own son to a community of people that disobey and reject what is good. As Christ teaches us in his own words, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (St. John 15:13) What gift can we then offer to God? We return the love by giving ourselves back to God. The Church is filled with the presence of Her Faithful Children today. We come in our best outfits and witness the beautiful service. We share in happiness and partake in a great feast, but let us not forgot to offer ourselves to God once more for His selfless sacrifice for our sake. What more can we give him than our humble selves.
As we celebrate Christmas this year, let us pray that God allows us to partake in this joy and celebration with a true and sincere heart. For God sent His only begotten son into this world so He can dwell among His people. Today, the infinite God has been born in the flesh, taking upon Himself our very humanity and becoming one with us. Today we repeat the joyous message of the heavenly hosts which is again proclaimed to all mankind: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and good hope for men." (St. Luke 2:14) You are wonderful Lord, for by your incarnation, your reconciled the creation with your Father and established great peace and concord in the world today. However, not everyone is able to share in this great joy. In fact, even when Jesus Christ was born, the Gospels record that when King Herod heard this he was disturbed along with all of Jerusalem. Even today, many among us are not able to receive the joy and peace which Christmas brings us. How can we share in this great festival without forgiveness in our hearts? Jesus Christ is presented before us in all humility and innocence to turn us from our sinful ways and into a life well pleasing and holy to Him. Christmas is about love. The ultimate love God had for us to give us His only begotten Son for our sake. Christmas is about Forgiveness, for if we don’t forgive each other, we cannot celebrate in this festival. Christmas is about holding on to Christ and allowing Him to guide us in every step of the way. "Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people." (Luke 1:68)
As the opening prayer of the feast of Nativity reads, “Make us worthy Oh Lord, to celebrate your feast with the heavenly hosts without any blame, and to sing praise to you with the innocent shepherds without growing weary and to worship you with the discerning wise men and to rejoice eternally in you with Mary who bore you, both now and forever. Amen.” I wish you all a very Blessed Christmas & a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year 2016.