Here is Vladyka Jonah’s Sermon from the Great Feast of the Nativity of the Lord, given at St John the Baptist Cathedral in Washington, D.C. on the 7th of January, 2015 (December 25, 2014 O.S.):
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Christ is Born! Glorify Him! I greet you with the Nativity of our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ. There is not much that one can add to the Patriarch [Kirill]’s beautiful message, but this one thing I would like to emphasize: it is so important for us to really accept the Orthodox Faith as the very essence and the core of who we are, of what we believe, and how we live. How everything in our life has to do with Christ, because as Christ took on humanity and became a man, he has taken us on Himself. We are clothed in Christ, we have been adopted as Sons of God. We participate in Christ’s own relationship with the Father. He came to make us not only what He is, but to share in who He is, so that we might communicate Him to this world.
Our world is a world that is lost in hopelessness and despair, shameless immorality and amorality: virtually undifferentiated darkness where the values have all collapsed. But we as the people whom Christ has called out, whom Christ has filled with His life, whom Christ has given part of the knowledge of God as our Father, can be a beacon of hope, can be a beacon of life. It’s so easy to want to fall into the trap of being Orthodox for two hours on Sunday morning, maybe a couple of hours on Saturday night, and live like we were in and of the world the rest of the time.
This is that same trap that Herod fell into, that same trap that Herod in his pride and in his passions [fell into]; [he] tried to look holy, consulting the great scholars, asking “Where will the Christ be born”, appearing as the King of Israel, and yet he was of the world. Brothers and sisters: we cannot be of the world and of Christ. The Apostle tells us that friendship with the world is enmity to God.
So let us take this great message of the Nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ not only as a warning but as a goal of who we are, that we might put Him first in every aspect of our life, that we might let all that is in the world and all that is of the world fall away from us, so that we might be sojourners within the world, but know that our true kingdom is the Kingdom of God, that our true King is Jesus Christ, and that we live according to His Life, according to His laws, and according to His Kingdom, which is not of this world. That we too can share in that hope, that we can have meaning for our lives, that we can have joy and peace and the reality of that Kingdom in our lives even in the midst of this broken world, so that the love of Christ might shine forth from us and embrace all of those that are around us so that they too might be given a ray of hope.
Our culture celebrates Christ so nicely in America — we have all these nice Christmas carols and everything is decorated, but there’s an ulterior motive. How much is motivated by faith in Christ and how much is motivated by materialism and consumerism? Let us be people who are people of the Gospel, and of that message that Christ has become like us in order that we might become like Him, so that He might share that likeness with us, to all eternity.
Christ is Born! Glorify Him!
With love in Christ,
P.S. You may find the Metropolitan’s above sermon here at the St John the Baptist YouTube page.