CHRISTMAS PASTORAL LETTER FOR 2007 OF HIS EMINENCE, METROPOLITAN MYKHAYIL
Dec. 25, 2007/Jan. 7, 2008
To the hierarchy, clergy, religious and faithful of the Metropolia of all America & the Diaspora of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church: Peace, health, happiness and salvation at this Festive time of the Nativity of our Lord, with my archpastoral blessing!
ХРИСТОС НАРОДИВСЯ! СЛАВІТЕ ЙОГО!
CHRIST IS BORN! GLORIFY HIM!
CRISTO HA NACIDO! GLORIÍQUENLO!
The celebration of the “winter holidays” holds a special place in the culture and formation of almost every place on earth. It has as much to do with time and the cycle of the year, as with the commemoration of some of the greatest mysteries of faith known to humankind. It is certainly no secret, that for centuries before Christ, peoples celebrated during this time of the year, in accord with the passing of the seasons. The harvest had come to an end, and with this time, the days also began to slowly render more daylight - a sign of the eventual passing of the dark nights of the year.
With the advent of Our Lord and God Jesus Christ, people began to see the meaning of the passing of the seasons in a new way. Christ, who is called in our liturgical poetry, the “Sun of Justice,” had come to bring light into the world (Jn. 1:9). And not only did Jesus’ coming signal more physical light for the earth, but also a spiritual, metaphysical light. Christ was to introduce the “Reign of God” to humankind, signaling a new way of thinking and acting for the people of the world.
In the time of Jesus, as now, there was much going on in the world, and much of it was not right. People suffered countless difficulties because of the failure of others to live lives which were based on truth and justice. Jesus chose to identify with those whose lives needed be made right. From his very birth into this world, he was associated with those who needed God’s visitation. Jesus, the “visitor from on high (Lk. 1:78), found no room in the city of David, which he could rightly call his own. Nevertheless, Jesus, God’s visitor to the world who could not find hospitality in his own place, will inaugurate for the people of the world, the hospitality of God. And remember, it was the poor, marginalized shepherds of Bethlehem who were the first to experience God’s graciousness through Jesus.
Times and places may change over the years and things may look quite different than they did in Jesus’ day. What does not change however, are people and circumstances. Despite improvements in both technology and thinking, there remains today, much to be changed about the world. There is a great need to hear and listen to the words of Jesus. There is still much lacking in preparing the way of the Lord among ourselves and in our own communities. Rather than repeat the sorry accounts of world history as we know it, I ask that we each try to make a thoughtful effort, based in real knowledge and truthfulness, to make God’s hospitality present in the world we each find ourselves to be in.
We take this opportunity to greet our Predstoyatel, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Mefodiy, and all of our people in Ukriane. We salute also, the faithful of our church in every part of the world - throughout all of America - in the US, in Latin America and in Canada, and in Europe and every part of the globe where our UAOC serves. May we grow in oneness of mind and of faith in this coming year. May it be a time to loosen attitudes and situations of bondage and open wide, the doors through which we will find the loving and all-inclusive embrace of our beloved Lord Jesus.
With every kind regard and fidelity in prayer,
Archbishop of New York
Metropolitan of All America
Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church