Nativity Epistle of the Metropolitan of Singapore and South-East Asia, SERGIY

Most Reverend Archpastors, Venerable Fathers,beloved brothers and sisters!

“Christ is born – Glorify Him! Christ comes from heaven – Meet Him!” – with these words, the Holy Church leads us in to the joy of the Great Feast of the Nativity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, on which I cordially greet you all. In these days, our thoughts plunge into the recollection of events occurring more than two thousand years ago. In the perception of the people living at that time, the coming to the world of the long-awaited Messiah was conceived as an act of exceptional significance. It seemed quite natural that the Great King should be born in rich palaces, surrounded by many servants, in a festive atmosphere. However, everything happens contrary to human logic. The Creator seems to say to the people: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways” (Isaiah 55:8). Instead of a palace – a cave, instead of servants – livestock, instead of festivity – a search for some meagre lodging. God reveals Himself in the world as a defenceless, meek Infant, and from His very birth suffers needs and hardships, sheltering inside a cramped stable meant for animals. All of these circumstances bear witness to the true meaning of Christ the Savior’s earthly ministry, who “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). When the Lord speaks to us, this often happens quite differently than we may expect. Divine logic is entirely dissimilar from human logic. During past Nativity celebrations, have we considered what trials we will soon have to endure? In the past year, we were deprived of the usual joy of fellowship, faced colossal limitations, difficulties, sorrows and disease. Yet, have we now not begun to better sense and understand the meaning of Apostle Paul’s bold words: “neither death, nor life … nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8: 38-39)? The Creator reminded us, through the events of this past year: that wherever we are, no matter how difficult the circumstances we experience, that we are always Christ’s, and therefore “not an hair of your head shall perish.” It is only needful for us, according to the words of the Gospel, to not despair, to trust the Creator and “in patience possess our souls” (Luke 21:18-19). Truly, the Lords leads us to salvation in mysterious ways. The Holy Fathers unanimously agree that enduring calamities and sorrows for Christ’s sake makes the soul of a person strong, giving it “an invincible skill for patience and courage” (St. John Chrysostom. Conversation on the words of the Apostle: and not only so, but we glory in tribulations also). Moreover, the fruits of this, as the wise Paul writes, are experience, which in turn, begets hope. “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us” (Rom. 5:3-5). The Nativity of Christ is a feast of this bright hope. Quiet, humble, but steadfast hope that the power of God will overcome all unrighteousness and sin. And sо, gazing upon the Divine Infant lying peacefully in the manger, we exclaim together with Blessed Augustine: “My whole hope is in Thy exceeding great mercy and that alone. Give what Thou commandest, and command what Thou wilt” (Confession. Book 10, XXIX). We all are Thine, Lord! Do with us according to Thy mercy! Glorifying Jesus Christ, who was born this day, may we be courageous and firm, relying on the grace-filled help of the Lord, abundantly sent down to us in the Sacraments of the Church. Let us rejoice, for God is with us! Let us place our trust in the Only Begotten Son of the Father, who for the sake of His great Love for us became man, so that, “being justified by faith, we have peace with God through Him (Rom. 5:1). I sincerely congratulate all of you, my dear ones, on the radiant feast of the Nativity. “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15, 13). Amen!

Metropolitan of Singapore and South-East Asia, Patriarchal Exarch of South-East Asia

Nativity of Christ 2020/2021, Singapore

СRISTMAS GREETINGS OF METROPOLITAN PAVEL OF MANILA AND HANOI.

TO THE ALL-HONOURABLE CLERGY AND FLOCK OFPHILIPPINE-VIETNAMESE DIOCESE.

“Thy Nativity, o Christ our God, has shone upon the world with the light of knowledge…”Beloved of Christ our Saviour, venerable fathers, dear brothers and sisters! In the midst of the continuous anxieties and sorrows of our present life, as a solemn good news, this majestic Church song is once again heard, proclaiming the Nativity of Jesus Christ. The coming of Christ the Savior into the world is the beginning of a new era not only in the chronology. God makes a New Covenant with mankind, based on new relationships, on the principles of love and grace.The bright and joyful feast of the Nativity of Christ is a reminder to us that we, Christians, are called to warm this world, at least in the small part where the Lord God has placed us. Look around you and be attentive to those whom Christ sends to us today in their need. And let everyone in his place honestly and responsibly, in a Christian way, do what he is called to do, so that people, seeing our good deeds, will glorify our Father Who is in heaven (see: Matthew 5: 16).The past year has been a year of upheaval and great challenges for all of us. Due to restrictions, for many months we have not been able to share joint worship services with you, with the flock of the Philippines and Vietnam entrusted to me, and to build a full-fledged Church life in our parishes. All mankind is now suffering from a pernicious plague, but it is not always aware what is the source of its disease. We look with concern at the challenges that the current world with its “liberal” values poses to us, at the temptations that are aimed primarily at our children and young people. Aggressive propaganda of all kinds of entertainment and moral permissiveness — this is the corrupting spirit of this age, which the Apostle Paul warns us against (see: ROM. 12: 2). One of the reasons for these difficult trials we see is that atheism is increasingly penetrating the life of our people, we are faced with spiritual emptiness, lies, untruths, we are in contact with human cruelty, revenge and malice, we are tired of the hustle and bustle of all the complex modern life, from corroding doubts, from uncertainty in the future, from the torment of an uneasy conscience.Humanity has reached the edge of the abyss and is hungry for redemption. And this redemption is coming, as the Church solemnly proclaims to us:Christ is born – glorify ye Him,Christ is coming from heaven – meet ye Him,Christ is on earth – be ye exalted!Christ comes again to our place of sorrow, to wipe away the tears of crying and heal our spiritual and bodily ulcers, enlighten those sitting in darkness, to cast down the proud and exalt the humble, to return freedom to the captives of sin, to comfort the brokenhearted and to give them “an ornament of glory instead of a spirit of despondency, the anointing of joy, instead of ashes” (Isaiah 61, 1-3).If we repent and turn to God with all our hearts, He will turn His face to us. Bowed down by our prayers and our sorrows, He will take pity on us and finally will grant us a pleasant summer, full of peace and joy, for His power is unspeakable, His love is inexhaustible and His truth abides forever.Dear pastors, pious laymen! With thanksgiving to God, let us enter the coming new year as the summer of God’s goodness, for there is no greater good for us than the life that the Creator has given us. I sincerely believe that in the coming year, the Lord will bless us to meet, pray together and thank the all-merciful Creator for all that He shows us in our lives. I express to all of you the words of my archpastoral love, prayerfully remembering everyone during the celebration of the divine Liturgy.On the feast of the Nativity of Christ, it is necessary to bring gifts to the Born Savior. Let us bring to the Lord our spiritual gifts: faith, love for God and our neighbors, sincere prayer and good deeds according to our faith and love. May our Saviour born in Bethlehem hearken our common prayer and give us joy to see in the coming year the summer of God’s goodness, light and serene life, for which we sincerely offer prayer:”Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will among men”!God’s blessing be upon you all!By The Grace Of God,PAVEL,METROPOLITAN OF MANILA AND HANOICHRISTMAS 2020/2021 year.