Patriarchal and Synodical Epistle for the Nativity of Christ - Bulgarian Orthodox Church-Bulgarian Patriarchate 2010 г.
“For, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11)
Beloved in the Lord children of our Holy Church,
Today is a day of great joy! A day of this same ineffable joy which came with the good news the angel of the Lord brought once to the Bethlehem shepherds and to all humanity through them: “For unto you is born a Saviour who is Christ the Lord” (cf. Luke 2:11) The words of the divine Evangelist are echoing nowadays throughout the whole world: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). When the whole universe reverberates with the heavenly and unprecedented news that the Lord was born, our joy grows so high and radiant! The Church celebrates a day of triumph and in its joy calls every man: "Christ is born - glorify Him! Christ descends from the heavens - welcome Him! Christ is now on earth - ascend!” (Katavasiae of the Nativity of Christ).
Wondrous day is this prime day of “the year of the Lord’s favor” (cf. Luke 4:19); the day when the great mystery of godliness got implemented, as “God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world” (1 Tim.3:16). And nothing, and nowhere would ever becloud this great joy and exultation, for Light and Hope came into the world of darkness and hopelessness on that very day, Righteousness in Person and Life in Person stands against sin and death, because Truth in Person totally defeated the misguidance of the “spiritual powers of evil in the heavens” (cf. Eph. 6:12). So, now we have nothing to be afraid of, “for God is with us” (cf. Is. 8:10). Therefore, the Church sings today, rejoicing: "Thy Nativity, O Christ our God, has illumined the world like the Light of Wisdom" (Troparion, 4th voice).
On this most glorious Day of the Nativity of Christ, given reality was the event that had been expected eagerly for centuries by the old Adam descendents who had the promise of God Himself that He would save them from the power of evil and death (cf. Gen. 3:15). Now God, as He is “the faithful God” (cf. Deut. 7:9) and as “with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37), “for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and was made man” (Nicene Creed). Through Christ, or the New Adam, it has become possible that the human sons may become again sons of God. Through Christ, Who was predicted by the prophets and Who had been most sincerely hoped for and expected by mankind, the redemption and reconciliation of humanity has been brought to reality, giving us free in Christ the opportunity of gaining “holiness”, and “everlasting life” (cf. Rom. 6:22). Therefore, let us rejoice together today, let us offer thanksgiving and sing the praise of the Godly child wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger at Bethlehem, as “in Him was life” (John 1:4) evermore and as He hath given us “an understanding, so that we may know Him Who is true; and we are in Him Who is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 5:20), since we were granted in Him free “grace for grace” (cf. John 1:16).
The Nativity of Christ represents eternity coming into time, incorruption coming into corrupted human nature, life entering the realm of death. It brings restoration and redemption to the creation in general and to each of us in person. It is an ultimate expression of God’s love for the world and for man, an ineffable hope to the hopeless as well as faith to the faithless. Christ has come to the world, He has come into the life of His own creation and into human nature in its integrity, so that He would deliver us all from the power of darkness and desperation and direct us along the path of life. He has come in the world which lieth in wickedness (cf. 1 John 5:19) evermore, bringing His everlasting peace so that He would reign into the hearts of all those people who accept Him in faith and make up their minds to adhere to His Testament. There is no compulsion, neither injustice in Him. His will is that everyone would be free to follow Him, joining Him with happiness and being guided simply by their love for God and for their neighbors. This is the plan of His divine righteousness. And the response He expects of us is the response of our hearts: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Ps. 50:12). So that everyone who is to live for ever in Him and by His Commands would even in this world produce fruit of high virtue, for they are clean through the word which He has spoken unto you (cf. John 15:3).
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Christ was born so that we might have life and even have it more abundantly (cf. John 10:10). Therefore, let us say in our hearts as well as in our minds, together with the host of heaven: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!” Rather than being children of darkness, let us be well aware of the high worth of being children of God, so that we may be the children of light (cf. John 12:36)! Let us fill our hearts with joy and let us make our days full of good virtues, so that at the end of our time in this world we may say together with the apostle: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7). Let us follow as a guiding star the God-man born on this very day, taking up His infinite love, divine humbleness of mind and loyalty and obedience to the divine Will of God, so that we may become worth of the crown of incorruption!
On the bright holiday celebrating the Nativity of Christ, greetings to all our spiritual children within the borders of our Fatherland and abroad!
May the grace and peace of the Godly Child born on this day and the joy in the Holy Spirit be with you all! Amen.
Happy and blessed Nativity of Christ!
HEAD OF THE HOLY SYNOD
M A X I M
PATRIARCH OF BULGARIA
AND METROPOLITAN OF SOFIA
MEMBERS OF THE HOLY SYNOD : Metropolitan KALINICK of Vratsa
Metropolitan JOAHNIKIUS of Sliven
Metropolitan DOMETIAN of Vidin
Metropolitan CYRIL of Varna and Velicky Preslav
Metropolitan JOSEPH of the USA, Canada and Australia
Metropolitan SIMEON of Western and Middle Europe
Metropolitan GREGORIUS of Velicko Turnovo
Metropolitan NEOPHIT of Rousse
Metropolitan NATHANIEL of Nevrokop
Metropolitan IGNATIUS of Pleven
Metropolitan GALAKTION of Stara Zagora
Metropolitan GABRIEL of Lovech
Metropolitan NICKOLAY of Plovdiv
Metropolitan AMVROSIOS of Dorostol