Reflections on the meaning of the Nativity of Christ today

Finding faith in the miracle of the Nativity

sermon on the nativity

Congratulations to our brothers and sisters in Christ on the great feast of the Nativity! The entire world was waiting for it. And at last, He was born. The Virgin Mary became the Mother of God. The Saviour arrived in a simple cave; he lay in a manger. Humanity’s new era came in this startling simplicity.

Ever since its falling from grace, humankind has directed its spiritual energies to build a heaven on earth. With extraordinary enthusiasm, the people of the Old Testament set out to build the tower of Babylon. From its top, they hoped to become kings of the Kingdom of Heaven without any God in their way. They believed in the power of their minds and their ingenuity. God had become to them some distant, invisible and non-existent deity.

Surely, the tower of Babylon was a grandiose undertaking and may have even been the highest building in human history. But we all know how this project ended—in a heap of building waste.

The birth of the living God returned to humanity the sense of His closeness. God acted through the people who had kept within themselves the ability to live by their faith. People like the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. They did not waste their time on trifles. They spent their lives in the service of God. The laws of this world were overruled. The order of nature came to pieces. I am the Lord's servant," Mary said. "May your word to me be fulfilled.” She believed in doing God’s will.

Sadly, the people of today are lacking in faith, just like in the Old Testament times. The Lord’s words still ring true, as if He said them yesterday: “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). We agree to believe in many things, but not in God or His miracles.

The present-day people are busy building their Tower of Babel: a world of universal happiness. Countless scientific discoveries, scores of inventions, and multiple innovations have been implemented in the name of this ambitious goal. The modern Tower of Babel rests on faith. But few still believe in God. Most trust in the power of the human mind and progress. They hope the rational order of life will overcome human weaknesses and end human suffering. Yet, despite all their efforts, we see ourselves moving in an opposite direction.

Today, people seem no happier than they were twenty years ago. They still find no solid ground to build their lives. As before, they are struggling hard to find meaning to their existence. “How long do I have? Eighty years? Ninety? But what next?” they ask themselves anxiously. Living with this mindset is scary, and fear makes people vulnerable to manipulation. Think how easy it has been to scare us into telecommuting, lockdowns, and much else!

Again, we come upon the same old truth that our ancestors discovered at the Nativity: there is no meaning to life independent of God. We need a living faith, and we must still ask God for it - to overcome the natural order of things and say to ourselves, “I will not die, but live!”

But can we accomplish any of this in our faithless times? By all means! Last week, we commemorated Saint John of Kronstadt, a glorious saint who lived in our time. He had a living faith. On icons, we see him with a cup. As he said during his lifetime, “a day without Communion is a wasted day!”

He never doubted the boundless possibilities of our faith in Christ. Many people received God's help and healing through his prayers. Still, as we read his diaries, we recognise ourselves in them. Like everybody else, he struggled with sin, trying hard to rein in impatience and hot temper. He suffered from illnesses. He found strength in his deep belief in God and trust in Him.

At church, we experience the reality of God’s life with the people. We need to grow in our confidence in this reality. “I can do it all in Him who gives me strength,” as we read in the Gospel. Others are saying, “You are going to die!” To that, we respond, “No, we will not die, but live!” With God, we fear nothing. But without Him, everything gives fear. Microbes, illnesses, or change. It frightens us to we are all by ourselves with no solid ground under our feet.

But I can do anything through Him who gives me strength. We believe in a miracle, and we do not question how it happens. We live our miracle instead. A husband and wife barren for five, ten, or even fifteen years suddenly have a baby. Against their doctors' predictions - is not that a miracle? A man expects to die from one day to the next, but through someone's prayers, he recovers and lives for many years! Multiple miracles happen at our Church.

May this Christmas season be an inspiring time for us. We have gathered together in prayer, taken communion, and united ourselves with the Lord. What better way to start a year? I wish everyone the wisdom to resolve their differences and misunderstandings that sometimes arise even among close friends and relatives.

Let me wish you good thoughts and motives; may you see God’s light everywhere. May this light fill all of your lives and illuminate the lives of all who surround us. Let us pray that the joy of our Lord will overcome our troubles and sorrows, and dissolve them in the miracle of the Nativity of Christ.

Glory to You, O Lord, Glory to You!

Archpriest Andrey Lemeshonok

January 10, 2022
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