Nativity Epistle of the
Most Reverend Afanasy,
Bishopof Vologodsk and Velikoustyuzhsk

Congratulations brothers and sisters on the glorious feast day
of the Nativity of Christ!

And indeed the True Light - Jesus Christ, our God, came into the world and illuminated the universe.  A feast day came to be, worthy of special reverence and awe, which can be called accurately the mother of all feast days.  From it, we have the beginning and  the foundation and Epiphany, and Holy Pascha, and Ascension, and Pentecost.  Like various streams from a spring, these feast days originated with the Nativity of Christ.  But this is not the only reason for its primacy,but it is more the events of this day, the most amazing event of all.  It is astounding that He – Christ who is God -wished to become man and humble Himself, in a way that the mind cannot even comprehend.  This is the most wonderful and amazing aspect.  In awe of these things, the apostle Paul said, the professed disturbance is the mystery of godliness.  What great disturbance?  God having appeared in the flesh.  The angels in awe before the greatness of this  event praised the newly-born Child God with agitated souls and taught these  songs of praise to the shepherds, revealing the greatness of what had happened. Sheep and other herded livestock surrounded  the manger with the newborn and glorified and praised the Lord however they  could, and warmed the Child in the cold cave with their breath.  The Child that was to become the nourishment  and drink of all mankind, which being in the darkness of ignorance, became like  the livestock, “the senseless brutes." The Magi, as the best representatives  of the pagan world, brought Him gifts: gold - as befitting a king, frankincense- as befitting a high priest, myrrh - as befitting someone who came to suffer for  mankind and take the sins of the world upon Himself.  Let us humble ourselves on this great day and  open our hearts to the Child God, and wing our way to Bethlehem through faith, desiring with all  our being to be led not by a star, but by the Holy Gospel, which is the light  of the world and an inexhaustible source of faith, unwavering hope and love of God.  Amen.

+Afanasy,
Bishop of Vologodsk and  Velikoustyuzhsk