Metropolitan Encyclical on the Feast of the Nativity

What shall we bring you, O Christ, Who for our sake, was born on earth as man? Every creature brings
 thanks to You: Angels their songs; the heavens a star;Wise Men gifts; Shepherds amazement; the earth a cave; the wilderness a Manger; but we – a Virgin Mother.”
Troparion from the Great Vespers of the Nativity

Dearly Beloved In The Lord,

During this Holy Season of Our Lord’s Incarnation we are invited to join the Magi on their journey to Bethlehem of Judea where we will find the King of Heaven and Earth. These three Wise Men traveled with the guidance of one star from the heavens which illumined their road to the place where the Christ was born: “and lo, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the Christ was.” Matthew 2:8 – 9
For us, our guiding star is the Word of God, the Holy Gospel and all the Scriptures, in which the prophet wrote: “Your law is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105   A lamp to our feet so that we may walk in the light of righteousness all of our lives; a light upon the road which we are traveling in life so that we may not lose focus or let worldly cares take over.

Upon arriving at Bethlehem, the Magi came before the Holy Child and His Mother and knelt down to worship the Savior; they opened their treasures and offered gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Holy Communion and Confession are the means by which we, too, become “wise” by offering three gifts to the Christ Child. We offer Him as gold – the purity of our heart and our intentions to avoid every evil thought and weakness; instead of frankincense we offer Him a soul that burns with love for God and all humanity; and instead of myrrh we present Him with a lifestyle that is worthy of Christian Orthodox living; a lifestyle that is replete with His love and our acceptance of this gift through our deeds, prayers and repentance.

The Magi, having worshiped Christ, did not return on the same road which brought them to the Savior. They changed their route and returned “to their country by another way.” Matthew 2:12
It is very important that we, too, change our direction. As we celebrate these Holy Days with our families and loved ones, we should not return to the same path we have taken for so long. “By another way” let us change our lives. These days are full of grief, uncertainty and dispute; let us bring the spirit of the Lord which is full of peace, reconciliation and mercy for everyone. “By another way” let us not repeat our previous mistakes. “By another way” let us follow the true path of Christian virtues.

As we celebrate the Birth of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ, my prayer is that we look deeply into our lives and flee all the bad habits that may be distracting us from a life in Christ, actions that may lead to spiritual death, and that we begin a new journey “by another way” that will bring us to life eternal.


With Love in the Incarnate Logos,

+ G E R A S I M O S
Metropolitan of San Francisco

Encyclical on the Feast of the Nativity

We have beheld His glory, glory as of the
only begotten Son of  the Father
John 1:14

To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Distinguished Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

On this holy feast of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, we gather in joyous celebration of the One who gives us rebirth and new life.  We offer praise to God for His abundant grace and for His divine plan for our redemption and salvation.  We do this in a manner that is filled with beauty, honor and glory, as this is what is due to the commemoration of a uniquely miraculous and wonderful event by which God became man and dwelt among us.

Through our celebration of the Nativity of Christ, our souls and minds are directed to contemplate the glory of His Incarnation. We hear and sing of this in the hymns of the feast.  We read the passages from the Holy Scriptures that tell of the angels giving glory to God in the highest and of the shepherds returning to their flocks glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen (Luke 2:14, 20).

This glory of the Incarnation revealed in the Nativity of Christ continued throughout His life and ministry as He took upon himself the challenges of our human condition.  His life in communion with God and humanity was an exaltation of what human life was intended to be.  Christ by word and deed showed that the chains of sin could be broken and the permanency of death overcome.  Through faith in Him and the salvation offered, we could know and experience a blessed life of peace and joy forever.

Further, the glory of the Incarnation was revealed through our Lord’s message of grace and truth. This was not a message that was dependent on the glory and might of military victory.  It was not associated with the earthly glory of political power.  The glory of the Incarnation was revealed through His love for us and through the Gospel of truth. He proclaimed, “I have come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).  In grace and truth He offered to us the love of God.  Into a world that was marred by animosity, greed, and pride, He brought a beautiful and enduring witness of divine love; and into a world burdened by deceit and vain pursuits, He proclaimed the truth and nature of our creation, our being, and our relationship with God.

Finally, the glory of the Incarnation is revealed in the transforming power of Jesus’ presence.  What was lost in the Fall of Adam and Eve is found in His Incarnation and its amazing consequences.  Through His appearance among us, our Lord leads us out of the darkness of evil and into the uncreated light of eternal truth.  As He dwells with us, He effects our transformation from sin to holiness.  As the Good Shepherd, He guides us from despair to hope.  As the Incarnate Word of God, He shows us the way to overcome our alienation so that we might live in full and eternal communion with Him. As our Master, He leads us out of the wilderness and into paradise.

Beloved Brothers and Sisters,

On the day of our Lord’s birth, the glory of His Incarnation was revealed to all of those who were blessed to witness this unique and transcendent act of God’s love.  In our commemoration of this holy day, may we all bear witness to the glory of the Incarnation through the witness of what our Lord has done for us and by His loving and saving presence in our midst.  May our thoughts and words express the glory and honor that belongs to the One who became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14).  And may our experience of the glory of His Incarnation lead us to tell everyone of what we have seen and heard so that all will come and worship Him.

With paternal love in Christ,

Archbishop of America