Nativity of Christ ; God's Love ; our Repentance (Winter 1991/2)

Bishop Seraphim
Nativity of Christ ; God's Love ; our Repentance
Letter from the Bishop's Desk
[Published in the “Canadian Orthodox Messenger”, Winter 1991/1992]

My dear brothers and sisters,

Christ is in our midst

One of the first Scripture passages which I ever learned as a child was John 3:16 : “‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life’”. God’s love creates life. His love takes concrete, tangible form. He is insistent and persistent. He follows the creature throughout life and seeks to give life in union with Himself, even to those who insistently and persistently reject His love. So much does He love us that in the midst of our self-deception in wilful waywardness, He emptied Himself to take on the whole of our fallenness. He took flesh, becoming a complete human being. He took on all our darkness and separatedness. Then He returned our fallen humanity to its original state by dying and rising again in victory.

The Nativity Feast is the celebration of God’s love for us, of His total self-offering in love to give us life. This feast also celebrates our union with Him which comes as a result of His gift. It celebrates our own similar self-offering in love as we who have put on Christ in baptism (see Galatians 3:27) also live daily in Christ. Living daily as Christians means that we carry Christ with us wherever we go and whatever we do, presenting Christ to everyone we meet. It means that we bring our Lord’s blessing to others, whoever they are, for all are His children. It means that we are measured by others, and by God Himself, according to our faithfulness to Christ.

The Orthodox Christian is called to a life of repentance : turning away from sinful self-service to doing God’s will ; from wilful rebellion to loving offering of obedience to Him ; from “doing my own thing” to being a good steward of His gifts, and putting the needs of others before my own. We Orthodox Christians in Canada are beginning to be known by others as a reliable standard of the traditional Christian. When the test is put to us to see if we really are what we say we are, Orthodox, will our lives bear the test ? Let us ask ourselves these questions, my sisters and brothers :

Do I really know Jesus Christ in the Orthodox way ?

Do I properly worship the Holy Trinity in the Orthodox way ?

Do I have my life ordered in the Orthodox way, with serving Christ as the first priority ?

Do I care about other people and meet their needs in the Orthodox way ?

Do I support with the first fruits of all my resources the worship of the Lord and the needs of the poor in the Orthodox way ?

Do I know the Gospel of Christ and live by that Gospel every day of my life in the Orthodox way ?

At the time when we are finally measured by the Lord Himself, may there be enough obedience, enough of His Good in me to save me from eternally separating myself from His life-creating love by rejecting Him in any way.