Nativity Epistle Vladyka Agafangel
First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad
Dear fellow archpastors and pastors, monastics and laity, brethren and sisters!
At the Nativity, a special life began, not only of our Savior, but also of those who were near Him: His earthly parents, relatives and close ones, who undoubtedly knew of His great destiny. By the birth of Christ, new life was engendered in the already existing world, and that life became a new era in the history of the whole universe.
Initially, Christians in no way depended on peoples ”external" to their community, and they completely did not take civil authority and politics into account. The Lord subjugated everything earthly to His non-earthly authority, and he transformed states through Christians, who constituted a special people, which is led by a special King, incomparable with any earthly kings.
However, increasing in size and numbers, the Christian community lost faith, and Christians lost the tie with their King. The sad result to which we have arrived today is “Christianity” without Christ. With each year, less and less is He remembered whose Nativity we celebrate during these days, and more and more rarely is the phrase “of Christ” added to the word “Nativity”. Nativity without Christ. An army without a commander – the Heavenly King – cannot be battle-worthy. External Christianity which does not touch the inner man; correct words which directly contradict the lives of those who pronounce them.
Christ is now departing from every quarter, and the surrounding world plunges into the abyss of sin; but the feast of the Nativity of Christ again and again summons each one to open his soul slightly to Christ. The Holy Family initially was not let in to the world – the inn where it is pleasant and comfortable – and a wretched cave became their refuge. So too today, the Lord again knocks at our locked souls. Will we hear?
On the Nativity of Christ, I greet all the faithful children of our Church, all who confess themselves to be Christians in our days.
+ Metropolitan Agafangel
Nativity of Christ, 2016