“He who makes rich is made poor; he takes on the poverty of my flesh, that I may gain the riches of his divinity. He who is full is made empty; he is emptied for a brief space of his glory, that I may share in his fullness. What is this wealth of goodness? What is this mystery that surrounds me? I received the likeness of God, but failed to keep it. He takes on my flesh, to bring salvation to the image, immortality to the flesh. He enters into a second union with us, a union far more wonderful than the first.” St Gregory Nanzianzen, On the Incarnation
To the Beloved Archpriests, Priests, Matushki, Monastics and Faithful of the God-protected Diocese of Sitka and Alaska,
Christ is born! Glorify Him!
When we attempt to ponder the significance of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, His taking on our flesh, we are hard pressed to fully understand this great Mystery. How can God take on human flesh? How can that which is immortal take on mortality? How can He Who cannot be contained, enter the womb of the Virgin Mary?
In one way we know that this is beyond our ability to fully understand, yet at the same time, it is within our ability to see the “goodness” as St Gregory calls it, of his taking on our humanity. It is in this taking on of the image of God, as we all have done, that we find our salvation. God in His love made us in His image and likeness, but we were unable to maintain it as it was given to us. We traded our likeness of God for a false promise to become like Him in an improper way, by trying to take a “shortcut” to divinity. Alas, it didn’t work, and we lost that which was given to us by God from the beginning because of our disobedience. We were hopelessly separated from our Creator with no way for us to return of our own accord.
But we were fortunate to have a God Who loved us even when we were lost in this world of sin. He came to us because we could not go to Him. We were a banished people, but through the Incarnation, our Lord has removed the barrier and given us a path to return to the former glory. And not only return, but now we are united to him through our own flesh and blood, which He assumed in His love for us and took that fallen flesh and raised it up to the very Throne of God, where He sits at the right hand of the Heavenly Father.
Let us give thanks to a God Who is so loving of us all that He sought to join us in our poor estate and make us full of His rich glory that He now offers to us because of His coming in the flesh. Let us hasten to celebrate, in every way, the Nativity of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Let us make melody in hymns of praise and sing Psalms of thanksgiving. Let us pray together the great songs of proclamation telling all the world that Christ is come to save us all from our sins.
As we gather at this time of year to celebrate the Nativity of our Lord and the coming of the New Year, I pray you all are blessed by God in a special way; that He will hear your prayers and grant you everything necessary for salvation, that he will keep you in His loving care with good health and keep you free from want. God bless you and grant you many years.
Your servant of Servants,
+ David, Bishop of Sitka and Alaska