When Joseph went up to Bethlehem, his heart was filled with sadness. But you cried out to Him, O Virgin: “Why are you so troubled? Why are you in misery seeing me with child? Do you not understand at all? I bear a fearful mystery. Cast your fears away, and learn a strange wonder: God, in His mercy, descends from heaven to earth. Within my womb He has taken flesh. When He is pleased to be born, you will see Him. You will rejoice, and worship Him, your Creator. The Angels ceaselessly praise Him in song, glorifying Him with the Father and the Holy Spirit.”
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Christ is Born! Hristos se Rodi!
The holy words of the Theotokos to Joseph in the Stichera of the 9th Hour of Christmas are appropriate for us as well. Why are we so troubled? There is and has been an undercurrent of fear in our parish for the past year. Fear regarding the future of our parish. Fear about finances. Fear about how long we can last as a parish. Fear for people choosing other things beside coming to Church. We have allowed the whispers of the adversary to cloud our trust in the living God.
How are these fears answered? Let us see the mystery and strange wonder of the mercy of God:
God has bestowed upon our parish in the past year immeasurable beauty, blessing and goodness. Sometimes, we forget about the gifts when we focus on the unknown. Yet, has God truly ever abandoned us?
Our loving God never has, and never will abandon us. The Love and Mercy of God has been ever present with us throughout the past year. Currently, we need to upgrade many systems within our Church building. God, in His mercy, provided the means to complete these upgrades through the gift of the Katic Endowment as preparations readying the Church for iconography.
God has been pleased to become incarnate in our community through the many times we have come together and celebrate the Holy Liturgy. He has become incarnate in our community in the opportunities provided to serve our neighbors. Our invitations to people for our Slava have born fruit in one of them reconnecting with the Orthodox Church, and re-entering into Holy Communion with Christ.
God has enabled us to help those in need in our community by enflaming our love—first through our attempt to feed those hungry—second, through providing the backpack program (providing food for hungry children) at Steelton-Highspire School District to be the recipient of our love.
He has seen our faith—faith present in spite of fear—and blessed us with the first deacon ever to serve our St. Nicholas parish in the person of Father Bojan Gligorevic.
The Son of God comes to be born! So why are we in misery? St. Joseph eventually cast away his fear and was blessed to see the Son of God incarnate. Let us cast aside our fears and trust in the God Who has never, and will never abandon us. The many blessings of the past year are just small examples of the ever-enduring love God gives to us.
Now is the time to seize upon this love and allow it to fill us with the Joy of the Heavenly Kingdom—the Joy which does not pass away. Now is the time to cast aside all fear and live, loving every neighbor who comes into our lives, trusting in God to provide all that is necessary to minister to them through us.
May the Newborn and Incarnate Christ Child fill our hearts with Joy and Gladness, driving out the fear and enabling us to live in an ever deepening awareness of His Love for us!
In the Newborn Christ,