“A new king is born in Bethlehem
Bless (Him) sons of mankind,
For He became incarnate for us.”
Armenian Church Hymnal
Dear pious faithful in Armenia, Artsakh and the Dispersion,
With songs of praise and prayers of thanksgiving we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Nativity and Theophany of our Lord Jesus Christ today, conveying the good news of the incarnation of God and the revelation of the Savior.
The prayerful fathers of our Church called the Holy Nativity a “mystery great and wondrous”. They named it as such, since it is impossible to describe how the uncontainable, the eternal and the boundless was contained in a manger; how the Word and Wisdom of God was born in a stable of incognizant animals. It remains beyond the comprehension of the human mind how the Only Begotten Son of God – the Creator’s Light of Glory – became a created being, and the Lord took on the form of the servant.
We do not know how this great miracle of God came to pass nor can it be explained; however we do know the reason for the miracle, “For He became incarnate for us”. Truly, these few words explain the Almighty’s providential will, guiding and directing the Holy Nativity and Theophany.
God is Lord and Creator “of heaven and earth, of things visible and invisible”. His glory is shown by His temporal and spiritual creations – the universe, mankind and the angels. The God of all has no need for body nor time. The Savior seated on the eternal throne of God had no need to descend from the heights of heaven to this sinful earth. The Prince of Peace had no need for persecution, torture, and crucifixion; there was no need for a crown of thorns, death, or resurrection. But all of this the Savior took upon Himself for our sake. The Love of God took on flesh to liberate us from the power of sin and death, and to make us worthy of the blessedness of eternal life. “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the expiation for our sins.” I John 4:10. God Whom we lovingly worship does not desire our death or condemnation, and for that reason He Himself came to live within us. He came to transform our lives, to grant us the hope of salvation and eternal life.
Indeed, our songs of praise and giving of thanks have no value, if within the depths of our soul we do not have the unshaken faith that God “became incarnate for us”. Our prayers will not be heard, if God does not abide in the very center of our existence.
Holy Nativity marks the beginning of reconciliation between God and man; it is the invitation to inherit eternal life and the exhortation to remain under the grace of salvation with Jesus Christ. God revealed Himself to us in His fullness, so that we do not remain apart from that fullness of divine and human perfection, and so that our lives hoping for salvation become satiated with that fullness of perfection. We believe that God is one. Is unity not essential for us? We preach that God is love. Do we not feel the need for love? Can we live without love? Can we create without love? God, to Whom we constantly pray, is holy, righteous and benevolent. Let us examine our hearts – do we not feel the need for holiness? Let us examine our actions – are they always truthful, good and benevolent? We declare that God is just. Do we not long for justice every hour of every day? We confess that God is our Father; that He is merciful, the unending source of peace and the grantor of goodness. Is peace not our daily appeal and wish? Does the earth not yearn for mercy and care every day? He who recognizes God in this manner, cannot live without Him; cannot live without binding his own hope for salvation with the faith of the incarnation of the Son of God; and cannot live without aspiring to always be under His blessings and graces.
The world loses its path without the light from the star of Bethlehem. Without Christ, the world will always be in distress, troubled and lacking morality. Material progress alone will not secure the avoidance of crisis situations, the prevention of conflicts and discord, or the elimination of disasters and poverty. The disregard of spiritual values and the tendencies of secularization unequivocally damage sacred traditions, distort moral concepts and understanding, as well as the inner-world of man, causing him to be indifferent to and alienated from God, from himself and the world. It is God who sustains the human soul. Human life shall be repaired by the soul that loves God and the power of faith, so that there is no blurring of the boundaries between philanthropy and egoism, so that there is no failure to differentiate between the just and the unjust, truth and falsehood, good and evil. Many issues shall be decided, many disparities shall be leveled and wounds shall be healed by the discerning comprehension and belief that the Son of God became man for our sake. This example of perfect love is light and direction for our lives and a commission to work with love. “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness and patience, forbearing one another; and if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3:12-14.
Dear faithful Armenians, on the “great and wondrous” feast of the Holy Nativity and Theophany, our Church commemorates the holy baptism of Jesus Christ with the Blessing of the Waters service, so that through the graces of Christ’s revelation to mankind, the blessed water be distributed throughout our families, increasing the love and blessings of God in our lives. Through our baptism, we are adopted by God. Through our baptism, we are one – regardless of where we may be; we are the sons and daughters of our Holy Apostolic Church, our nation and our homeland. Let us live and work with this sense of unity and love towards one another, so that we may be empowered to overcome all difficulties and challenges, to progress toward the achievement of our hopes and aims. As the oldest Christian nation and as God’s people, let us bring our participation with our God-pleasing lives in the creation of a peaceful and prosperous world – a world filled with solidarity and happiness. Today our Lord and Savior comes to live within our hearts and to renew us with His grace. Let us receive the Lord in our souls, be reinforced with faith, and remain loyal to our spiritual inheritance and Christian values. With reliance on our Lord and Savior and the steadfast hope and strength granted from Him, let us make our lives flourishing in all aspects, continue to build our native land, and care and strive for the manifestation of all national aspirations and the rights of our people in Artsakh. May our virtuous works and benevolent souls filled with love towards one another always shine brightly in our lives, whereby we shall bear witness that we love God.
It is with these emotions, prayers of joy and warm Pontifical love, from the cradle of our faith – the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin – that we greet all sons and daughters of our people in Armenia, Artsakh and the Diaspora.
With fraternal love in Christ, we greet the incumbents of the hierarchal sees of our Holy Apostolic Church: His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia; His Beatitude Torkom Manoogian, Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem; His Beatitude Mesrob Mutafyan, Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople; and the oath-bound ranks of our clergy.
We extend our Pontifical blessings and greetings to the President of the Republic of Armenia, Serzh Sargsian; the President of the Republic of Nagorno Karabagh, Bako Sahakian; all state officials of the Armenians, and leaders and representatives of diplomatic missions accredited to Armenia.
On this grace-renewing day of the Holy Nativity, let us offer thanksgiving with prayers to God in heaven for the blessings and consolation He grants us; for the successes and achievements in our ecclesiastical and national life, and ask that He care for us with His boundless love as is His will. May He make us worthy to remain steadfast on His path, reinforce us, illuminate us and make His saving grace shine within us, today and always.
“Bless (Him) sons of mankind, for He became incarnate for us.”
Christ is Born and Revealed
Great Tidings to All