In the God-Child Christ, my dearest, by the Grace of God - spiritual children
On the eve of the radiant and joyous Feast of the Birth of Christ, we behold the inexpressible mystery of God's love, which again and again is abundantly gifted to all mankind, and in particular to those who approach His love in the embrace of Him who is born in a Bethlehem cave. For it is Christ who radiates from the human heart and transfigures it, who warms the coldness of the cave of the human heart, making it the warm abode of the uncontainable God.

Љубав која је у знаку давања себе, која, како благовести Свети Апостол Павле дуго трпи, благотворна је, не завиди, не горди се, не надима се, не чини што не пристоји, не тражи своје, не раздражује се, не мисли о злу" (1. Кор. 4 – 5), управо тој љубави нас призива изнова Богомладенац Христос који жели да се сви људи спасу и да дођу до познања истине (1. Тим. 2, 4) .

The Holy Apostle Paul heralds that, love is long-suffering, its does not envy, it is not proud, it does not boast, it does not dishonour others, it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered and it does not delight in evil (1.Corinthians 4-5). It is to this love that the God-Child Christ calls us anew, for he wishes that all people be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. (1.Timothy 2-4).

As images of God, we humans are called to make manifest by grace, that which by nature belongs to God. That is why the Holy Fathers exclaim, that the Birth of Christ is also a signpost to mankind, whereby God becomes man so that by grace man may become God.

Mankind is presented with a great and bewildering and yet miraculously possible beckoning. A confirmation of this we see in the saints of the Church, who responded, with their own love, to God's initiating love which descends from Heaven. This love does not seek its own personal or transitory interests, but rather a complete immersion in the eternal mystery of God in the Flesh, Emmanuel, who came not to be served, but that He may be a servant to all. That is why, in the mystery of Christmas the mystery of family is revealed. A mystery emeshed in the mystery of the Church itself – in the mystery of selfless and crossbearing love. Father, mother and children in the community of love with God, are themselves a small church, a microcosm of God's great plan for this world.

As Orthodox Christians, today more than ever before, we are called to preserve our understanding of the sanctity and role of the family in this world, despite all of its perceived modernity. A sanctified family is the workshop of salvation, a most precious gift to the world, to society and to the nation. For this reason, the Holy Church renews its call to us as members of her Holy Body living beneath this southern sky, to do all that is expected of us to raise our children in the spirit of the truth of the Gospel, in the spirit of the way of St.Sava. Let us bring our children to the Holy Church which will plant the seed of immortality in their hearts, the only seed of logic in a world which tumbles around bereft of reason. Let us nourish our children with the food of Eternal Life, which in the image of the Tree of Life nourished Adam and Eve, and which is offered to us from week to week and from feast day to feast day – that is Holy Body and Precious Blood of our Saviour. The sanctity of family provides for a sanctified society, that is, a society in which its members will be formed and perfected in goodness, in communion with God, sharing its grace with those around them.

As Orthodox Christians, we believe that God has called us to be apostles to this corner of the world, which has yet to come to know the true and unchanging Image of Christ. That wonderous Image which sadly today is so often altered and adapted to suit a secularised and consumer society in which the family is so subtley threatened and destablised.

Orthodoxy, that is the Christ-Man in time and space, is the greatest need of this world and society. For this reason, I, by the Grace of God your arch-pastor, entreat you to most wholeheartedly and enduringly resist the many influences of this fallen world and its changing trends, and that you bind yourselves to the always new, forever same and unchanging Saviour, Christ.

We call all Serbs in this our one and only Church to pray for the unity and brotherhood of the Serbian people in Australia and New Zeland and throughout the world. The Lord and Heavenly Serbia rejoice when we live in unity and love, in the the truth of the Gospel in the Church whose intercessor before the Lord is St.Sava. Let us make our children glad, let us make future generations glad. Only in love and unity can we achieve vitally important projects, without which, sadly, as a nation we will find it difficult to survive the onslaught of the godless spirit of this fallen world.

May the God-Child transfigure us with His love, granting us endurance in our efforts to bear His name in the world and community which in His wisodm He has given us.

Wishing you a most joyous feast of the Birth of Christ,
Christ is Born ! Indeed He is Born !
Siluan
Bishop of Australia and New Zealand

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