To the Reverend Clergy, Monastics, The Parish Councils, The Philoptochos Societies, The Choirs, The Youth Organizations and The Faithful of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco:

"And we who were in darkness and shadows found the truth." — Exapostilarion of Christmas

Dearly Beloved,

It is for this reason that we celebrate Christmas: the dispelling of the darkness of the unknown and the shadows of fear in order to find the truth of Jesus Christ.

This is a celebration of the truth and its power. The words of St. John and Apostle Paul are reverberated in the world that truth liberates and saves. In those days, truth was simply a philosophical thought. However, in latter times with the dawn of the Christian era which is illumined by the Sun of Righteousness, truth becomes the brilliance which shines forth and which leads man toward freedom. Man receives deliverance from darkness and from the shadow of moral and spiritual slavery.

This year, let us ask for this liberating truth together with the grace of God as our Christmas present. Let us receive it from His hands Who is truth and grace. Let us not deny our souls the joy that comes from the two announcements heralding Christmas and which are mentioned by St. Luke and John the Evangelist. We should be attentive to their deeper meaning. St. Luke tells us to go together with the shepherds “to see this thing that has come to pass which the Lord had made known to us, that a Savior was born today who Is Christ the Lord.”(Lk 2:15). St. John tells us further that “as many as received Him to them He gave the right to become children of God.”(Jn. 1:12)

It is our obligation, my beloved children in the Lord, to respond to these two invitations and challenges. We are invited to understand these words in all their meaning. “Today a Savior is born to us.” We should concentrate on the word today. It does not say yesterday, or tomorrow. It says today. Salvation is offered to us at this moment. This is the blessed opportunity to free ourselves from weaknesses and from sins. We are invited to free ourselves and to believe that we have the power to do so. It is up to us to become children of God. We must admit that only few of us have responded to this invitation. Many times, most of us feel that due to sinfulness in our lack of resolve, we do not consider ourselves Christian in the true sense of the word. We have the attitude of not being Christian, but not the feeling that this attitude threatens our total spiritual and moral condition and life. We take for granted that at a particular time and place in history and for some people, the love of God took on flesh in the person of Jesus Christ Who “was born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive adoption.”(Gal. 4:4). I wonder if we have ever appreciated the value and the power of God that He has given to us in becoming children of God. Yes, we have the power to become children of God! This freedom is from the grace and truth which has been offered to us as gift from the hands of the Christ Child.

Never in the annals of human history has it been recorded that anyone died a martyr’s death for the express purpose of raising man from his moral downfall and lifting him up to the lofty place of adoption by God Himself. As we walk in the 21st century we are living in a time in history that is devoid of spiritual and moral values which would have the potential of stopping the dangerous course the world is now taking. For it is slowly descending toward a turbulent sea which could engulf us and dash us without any pity against the complexities of an uncontrolled materialism and of advanced technology on which we unwittingly based so many hopes.

Even so, we see before us a shining star. It is the star of Christian truth and divine grace. If we fix our eyes and our hearts on this star, it could lead us to a tranquil harbor where our fears would be laid to rest and our hopes materialized.

Let us then raise our heads high toward the Son of Righteousness, as He dispels the darkness and the shadows. Let us allow the rays of His love to fill our homes during these Holy Days. With our souls resplendent in His redeeming Light, the light of salvation, let us embrace the Christ Child to our hearts, singing with joyous voices, so that all the world may hear us. Let our voices ring out singing that “today a Savior is born to us.” With this belief, let us greet the great Feast of Christmas. It is time for the eyes of believers to display courage and for the world to be filled with people who will not allow darkness and shadows to hover over the souls of humankind.

Beloved, Christ is Born! And within the dazzling brilliance of this truth, let us sing with all the joy that our hearts can contain that we who dwell in the darkness and shadows of today’s confusion and delusion, “have found the truth.”

As we embrace around the Christmas tree, experiencing joy and love, let us celebrate this great Feastday, beholding with optimism the Star of Divine Providence which leads us to the New Year.

With Paternal Love in our Newborn Savior,
+ G E R A S I M O S
Metropolitan of San Francisco