Heads of Christian Churches Address Ukrainians on Christmas
“The Holy Ukrainian Orthodox Church triumphs today as it celebrates the Birth of Christ, glorifies and magnifies the Divine Baby Christ and sees in that sacred event the wisdom, love and blessing of the Heavenly Father for the mankind…
Beloved in the Lord Archpastors, pastors, brothers and sisters! Unfortunately, due to my health condition, I cannot physically stay with you on this holy day but I am with you in prayer in my heart and Christ is among us. Thank you on these days of the visitation of the Lord for the sincere prayers and words of comfort. They inspire me and give me more strength to pass the test sent by the Lord. I am calling you at this complicated time to keep with special care the Church unity and love for God and one’s neighbour commanded by the Saviour!
As I heartily greet everyone on Christmas and new year, I am praying for God’s blessing for you, I wish you to be sanctified by the God of peace in all fullness, and let your spirit, soul and body be preserved innocently for the time of the advent of our Lord Jesus Christ! Christ is born – let us glorify Him!” reads the address of the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Volodymyr.
“Today, we celebrate the beginning of our liberation from sin and death, that is Christmas. For without the Birth of Christ, without the incarnation of the Son of God, the renewal of human nature would not be completed…
It is necessary to think seriously how to fill with the Christian spirit all the areas of the social life, science and education, culture and healthcare, state-creation and enterprises, politics and leisure. This should be done not only for the sake of the Kingdom of God and eternal life but even for the sake of self-preservation. Spiritual revival is possible only in God and in love for Him and people. Everyone should not only believe in God but love Him not only out of gratitude (for He humbled Himself as He was born in a cave as a Baby and was put in the manger even though He was God) but, mainly, because the essence of life of intelligent creatures is in love for God.
That is why Jesus Christ said that the love for God is the first and greatest commandments. The second Commandment of God is to love one’s neighbour as oneself,” stressed in his address Patriarch Filaret of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyivan Patriarchate.
“Christ is on Earth, rejoice!” On this mysterious night, the heavenly messenger angel says to us like once to the shepherds: “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. (Lk 2, 10). Today, we must unfortunately state that various fears of the past return to the Ukrainian society. Even after twenty years of building the Ukrainian state, we are fore some reason still concerned as we are not sure if we will really preserve its independence, freedom and Ukrainian identity. We are afraid of the incontrollability of the world economic crises and modern forms of social and national enslavement. Therefore the angel’s good news “Do not be afraid!” should speak to our hearts with special strength today. “Christ is on earth, rejoice!” sings Christ’s Church today. Let us all rejoice as the presence on earth of the incarnated Christ, our Saviour is for us a source of unspeakable strength and hope in our earthly life with its trials and tests. Only in His birth, in the Birth of the unchanging and eternal God, a new and better future is born which fills our present reality with sense and certainty. Those who already found hope in the little Child, the newly-born Saviour have already found help and strength for their complicated, variable and uncertain time,” noted the Head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Sviatoslav in his address.
“The angels are singing over the manger of Baby Jesus: Peace to the people of good will! I wish You all that peace of God: in the homes, places of work, in the whole country. Be people of good will and God will come to You with the grace of peace. And then, you will see that the problems of this day, our daily cares are not the end of the world, that God’s Love eventually overcomes everything. Dear ones in Christ, invite this Love to your Christmas table and let It stay with You and explain Your daily life… The time of Christmas is the time of God’s great mercy. Let us also imitate this mercifulness in our treatment of those who are in a more difficult situation than us, the sick, unfortunate, unjustly convicted, lonely ones!” called the Head of the Conference of the Roman Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Mieczyslav Mokrzytski in his address.
Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople noted that we should glorify God both in words and with good works: “And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace.” (Lk 2:13-14).
The angels are singing these magnificent proclamations but the vast majority of people, despite their celebration of Christmas, cannot perceive the meaning of that angelic song and, instead, ask if God is really glorified today and if God at all should be glorified. Where can one see the promised peace on earth and why the modern society should live with a good will?
This is because in reality most people do not glorify God with their deeds and words. Many of them doubt the very existence of God and presence of God in their life. Many people ascribe to God the responsibility for the misfortunes of their lives. However, those who grumble about God are badly mistaken because evil does not come from Him. On the contrary, the incarnation of God’s Son and Word and the events of His Crucifixion on the cross and Resurrection restore the original beauty of human nature and make people co-workers and heirs of the Kingdom of God. This act of humbling and even humiliation of God itself deserves glorification.”
Representatives of the Conference of Ukrainian Orthodox Bishops Outside Ukraine sent Ukrainians their Christmas greetings.
The head of the All-Ukrainian Union of Churches of Evangelical Christians Baptists expressed hope that in the New Year, the joint preaching of the Gospel will be more fruitful.