Home / Epistles / 2017 Nativity Epistle of Bishop Irenei

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To the Venerable Clergy, God-Loving Monastics and Venerable Faithful
of the Diocese of Great Britain and Ireland

Dear in Christ, Fathers, Brothers and Sisters!

Christ is born! Glorify Him! With heartfelt joy I share this traditional greeting with you, as from this night we enter together into the radiant Feast of our Lord’s Nativity.

When Zacharias, the father of St John the Forerunner, was filled with the Holy Spirit, he prophesied of the coming Christ: Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for He hath visited and redeemed His people, and hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David; as He spake by the mouth of His holy prophets, which have been since the world began: that we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember His holy covenant; the oath which He sware to our father Abraham, that He would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of our life (Luke 1.68-75).

This, my dear brothers and sisters, is the miracle that we see come to fruition around us today. God has truly visited His people! He has come to us, each of us, and entered into our lives. And just as He had always promised, as our Prophets and Patriarchs and Fathers proclaimed, God has granted us the greatest gift in creation: to be united to His life, that neither enemy nor any evil power might constrain us, but that we might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness, all the days of our life.

And so we do, by His tender and incalculable mercy. We stand before Him, free from fear; for He has come into our world and crushed fear. We stand before Him, free from bitterness and hatred; for He has come into our lives and shown us the path of peace and goodwill among all mankind (Luke 2.14). We stand before Him, free of every burden and force of darkness, for a Light has shone in the darkness (John 1.5), even our newborn God, and He calls us into something greater than fear, or agitation, or any human baseness — He calls us into His own life of holiness and righteousness, promising that if we will give our broken hearts to Him in humble faith, He will return them to us mended, healed, and radiant with His glory.

Our Diocese, too, by this Lord’s benevolent mercy, is undergoing a new birth in Him. This year we have ordained new Readers, new Priests. We have opened new parishes. We have rekindled clergy Pastoral Convocations. We have begun spiritual and theological discussion groups in parishes, made plans for increasing our work with youth, begun new endeavours in liturgical training, and envisaged the instruction of future clergy and monastics. We have been visited by wonder-working icons, and seen healings of body and of spirit in the midst of our parishes. We stand in loving confidence before these signs of growth and life, because we recognise in them all the hand of this same God Who is today born in a cave, Who ‘makes all things new’. And we look forward to future generations of our Diocese’s life and missionary work, knowing that God always blesses those who turn to Him in faith and love, and receive the love that He so unconditionally offers.

May our newborn God pour forth His blessing upon you all, upon your parishioners, your families, and your children.

Administrator of the Diocese
of Great Britain and Ireland
Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
The Bishop of Sacramento
  +Irenei
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