In this email
Christmas message of Metropolitan Silouan — “Do not be afraid”
Christmas Greetings from Fr Alexander
Stay connected to the Church — Calendars
The Meaning of Christmas — Be the Bee
Live stream information
News of Future Services
Saints and Feasts — 23rd–31st December
Offer of help
Christmas message of Metropolitan Silouan
“Do Not be Afraid”
This was the Lord Jesus Christ’s commandment for his disciples during difficult times, and we also need to follow these words in today’s unprecedented times.
The Lord Jesus came into this world silently, without any appearance of celebration. He came into this world humbly and selflessly, welcomed only by poor shepherds and foreign Magi.
As reflected in the scriptures, Jesus was born in Nazareth to a poor mother (Matthew 2:6). Nazareth was the least among the rulers of Judah, and people questioned if anything good could come out of that place. He was called a Nazarene (John 1:46).
He ran from Herod, however, Herod’s life was in his hand.
Even though He is the shepherd of shepherds, he still humbly needed the care of a mother. His humility shamed those who were proud and proved to everyone that it is not the place that glorifies man, but man is the one who glorifies the place, and true greatness only originates from within.
At the core, the story of the birth of Christ reveals a story of love.
God loved this sinful world, oppressed by Satan, defeated by sin, and incapable of seeking His salvation. Overwhelmed by sin, the world had become blind to Him and, therefore, had truly become a lost world.
Amazingly, God did not come to judge this sinful world but to save it from its sufferings and give it life. He did not come to sentence us but to deliver us from judgment. Out of His love for us, He found us under the judgment of death and so took our place and died for us. As we go through many difficulties in our lives, we can be confident that in the end, the victory will be for the Lord. He will help us at the appropriate time to overcome difficulties. With Him, victory will be ours provided that we stay near to Him and never doubt Him, His wisdom, or His timing.
These difficult times can shake our faith in the Lord and His power, but we must firmly adhere to our faith and not let coldness and apathy enter it. Personal home prayer, adherence to the Bible, and reading spiritual books will help strengthen one’s faith.
The Word became flesh in order to give us a better life or, rather, to restore us to Himself in His incarnation. We are to live in Christ, to be born with Him, to be crucified, and to be buried with Him in order to rise with Him.
Therefore, let us celebrate, not in a worldly way but in a spiritual way. This year has been challenging. Let us focus on His gift of love and not the extravagant decorations, festivities, and worldly music.
Christianity is a path of life that does not end with distress or disease. We must follow the path, whatever the circumstances, with faith in and reliance on the Lord. We must live in this world looking forward with hope because, in the end, Christ will prevail with those who remain with Him.
For many, Christmas is celebrated with a tree, decorations, food, and gifts; for others, it is the birth of the Saviour of this world. We believe in the Christ child who came to this suffering world to grant us salvation. “He came to preach to the poor, heal the brokenhearted, and call out to the captives to be freed” (Isaiah 61:1). Jesus did not come as a mighty God to be feared, but rather a tender Father with open arms, a God who would save us from our sins and wipe every tear from our eyes. Let us focus on our salvation because it is the goal of His birth. If you need salvation, ask the divine Child to deliver you from your sinful ways and imperfections. Ask Him to sanctify and save you with His compassion and to wash you so that you become whiter than snow. We must not miss this goal but always strive to achieve it.
What will Christ see when He comes this year on His birthday? He will see diseases, wars, despair, atheism, and family disintegration. As for you, let Him see that you also have faith, love, inner joy, hope, and trust in Him for a better future. Let us strive to spread this faith in the world, ask for its salvation, minister to our brothers and sisters, and help those who have no help. Sharing the faith is how His birth will be fulfilled in us while leaving us with love and peace.
My brothers and sisters, dear ones, Christmas this year is mixed with pain and sickness. Let us all turn it into good.
I hope that Christ, born in a cave, will give us the faith necessary to face these difficult times. Had it not been that the Lord loved us and had compassion on us, this plague would have been even greater. It is His mercy and love that protects us from the greatest evil. His mercy reveals our shortcomings and teaches us to repent and turn away from our sins.
I wish you a Merry Christmas, and may the Divine Child give us all joy, reassurance, and hope for all the peoples of the Earth.
Jesus came to this world as a child and gave us peace and love. On the day of His birth, we should contemplate the depth of His love for us and how He came to this world for us, to save us from our darkness and give us His glorious light. Amen.
Metropolitan of the British Isles and Ireland
I wish you all joy for this Christmas season: now, more than perhaps ever in our lifetimes, can we let Christmas focus on the coming down of our Saviour into the world. May we all, each one of us, learn to hold him in our hearts daily that we may ourselves be temples of the living God in whom God lives and walks (see 2 Corinthians 6:16–7:1).
We celebrate not an event from two millennia ago but the coming into the world here and now of the Lord, as one of us, that we may be united to him. Let him be born in your own heart today and always.
Stay connected to the Church
Our Archdiocese publishes an annual calendar for you to put up on your wall. It can be part of keeping you in contact with the Church every day of the week. I still have copies in stock for 2021 and they would make an excellent addition to your home and a beautiful gift for a friend.
This year’s features pictures from our monastery in Shropshire. There are the saints and the Bible readings for each day of the year as well as a guide to fasting.
Contact me for details, firstname.lastname@example.org: £6 per copy.
The Meaning of Christmas
What does Christmas mean? Steve explores in the latest Be the Bee video.
Worries are increasing on the possible increase in the spread of the disease. Yet there is a division: one side is accused of scare-mongering while the other of irresponsibility. The situation is becoming fractious and each side’s position is becoming more entrenched.
Our duty as Christians is to stand for truth and to bring about unity. But to stand for truth does not mean to ridicule nor deride those who are wrong, it is to act patiently, humbly, lovingly: in other words to be Christ-like. We do not shy away from the truth nor do we separate ourselves from others.
The Church has a clear position as given by our bishops: we are to obey the civil authorities on these matters. We follow the law while maintaining our Faith and thus provide a witness—a martyrdom—of the Gospel. And then, by trusting in the power of God and not our own, we may become an icon of unity and concord.
Would you like help? Advice? Support? Then let me know.
The Monastery of Saints Antony and Cuthbert, Shropshire, is live-streaming its services for all who are unable to go to their own churches. These are over YouTube and can be accessed here:
Usually Vespers on Saturday evenings at 5 pm and Matins and Liturgy on Sunday mornings from 7.30 am.
News of Future Services
We want to start to hold services together: things are difficult now but they remind us that we can do nothing by our own power. Only when we place our hope in the Lord—and not in our own skills, talents, ideas, imaginations—will we be able to build a house for the Lord.
Our Facebook Page, facebook.com/orthodoxeastleigh, too, has regular additions during the week as well as on feast days. Please do like and share our page and content so we may reach a wider group of people.
Do you receive the weekly (on Fridays) text message? If not, then let me know.
Saints and Feasts
Wednesday 23rd December — Forfeast of the Nativity of Christ. Ten Martyrs of Crete (3rd). Dedication of the Church of the Holy Wisdom, Constantinople.
Thursday 24th — Eve of the Nativity of Christ. Virgin-Martyr Eugenia of Rome, and with her the Martyrs Philip, her father, Protus, Hyacinth, Basilla, and Claudia (c 262).
Friday 25th — The Nativity According to the Flesh of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The Adoration of the Magi: Melchior, Caspar and Balthasar. Commemoration of the Shepherds in Bethlehem who were watching their flocks and went to see the Lord.
Saturday 26th — Second Day of the Feast of the Nativity: Synaxis of the Most-Holy Theotokos.
Sunday 27th — Third Day of the Feast of the Nativity. Sunday after the Nativity. St Joseph the Betrothed, David the King and James the Brother of God. Protomartyr and Archdeacon Stephen (34).
Monday 28th — After-feast of the Nativity. The 20,000 Martyrs of Nicomedia (302).
Tuesday 29th — After-feast of the Nativity. The Infants (Holy Innocents) slain by Herod at Bethlehem,
Wednesday 30th — After-feast of the Nativity. Virgin-Martyr Anysia at Thessaloniki (285–305). St Egwin, Bishop of Worcester (717).
Thursday 31st — Leavetaking of the Nativity. St Melania the Younger of Rome (439).
Can I help you?
I am here for you, you need only ask. Is there a way I can support your life of faith? Get in touch.
Can you help the mission?
Yes, absolutely. Offer yourselves to the Lord: pray! Make available to him all your talents and ask him how he would like you to use them — listen for his reply.
I ask your prayers for me.
With love in Christ