Holy Ascension Russian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
“Be Thou exalted, O God, above the heavens, and Thy glory above all the earth.”
Nativity Greeting from the Father Rector

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the easat to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him” (Mat. 2:1-2).

Dear Brothers and Sisters in our New-Born Christ Jesus, our Beloved Lord and Savior!

The wise men, as priests and seers from among the pagan worshippers of the sun and other stars, were investigators of the heavenly bodies not in order to predict the future but to trace the ways of divine Providence. And, though foreign to the Hebraic tradition, they were closer and more perceptive to the Truth than many of the sons of Israel. Following the extraordinary star, that was unlike any other of the heavenly luminaries they had ever observed – shining more brightly, moving contrary to the natural orbits, and descending and standing directly “over where the young child was” (Mat. 2:9) – the Magi forsook all previous knowledge and experience founded on the worship of stars for the adoration of the Sun of righteousness, even while they were on their way.

In juxtaposition, the arrival of the Magi to the capitol of Judaea caused an uneasy stir, as it is written: “When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him” (Mat. 2:3). King Herod, who was not Jewish, was enraged at the report of the birth of the “King of the Jews” as he was unworthy to sit on that throne. And predictably, because of their love of power and wealth, and in general, because of their moral corruption, the citizens of Jerusalem, in their folly, were unhappy and distressed at the prospects of their esteemed temporal securities being upturned by a New King.

Rather than clinging to the fleeting and transitory, had they apprehended that “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (I Cor. 2:9), they may not have balked at the revelation before them, for “great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh” (I Tim. 3:16). The New Adam, Who bestows unspeakable gifts, became a Babe. The Glorious and Almighty, the Uncreated Word and Son of God, took upon Himself the coarseness of our fallen flesh in all its vulnerability and frailty. However, disregarded by the rich and famous, at His Coming Christ God is recognized and adored by His elect – the most unlikely people in the eyes of the Jewish world – foreign, pagan kings. Let it be noted, therefore, that the true test of repentance and whether someone is pleasing to God, is when he is derided by the foolish.

As a journey without direction is a wasted effort, so a life void of God’s Law is futile. The wise men in their sojourn were guided by a miraculous star which shone brighter than the sun during the day, stilled when they rested, and ultimately pointed them to Christ, Whom they rightly worshipped as a little Babe laying in a humble manger. Bowing down in adoration they offered gold to Him as the Heavenly King, frankincense as the High Priest, and myrrh for His predestined burial.

What great power was needed to strengthen the faith of the Magi! Many have disparaged faith as something that does not require effort and exalted works as things accomplished by sweat and force. However, a believer needs a powerful soul so that he can deflect all onslaughts of disbelief. Furthermore, the Magi did not believe by means of human logic and science, but by reflecting deep within themselves on things worthy of God’s glory; and thus were assured that God can accomplish the impossible. This means that physical exertions to put God’s will into practice demand inner noetic activity. How else could the Magi have sensed God’s uncreated glory in the physical body of the little Babe born in that obscure, humble cave in Bethlehem? “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1).

Dearly beloved Brothers and Sisters, let us not allow our spirit to become fleshly, but let us make our flesh spiritual as Christ has come to dwell in the flesh which is subject to sin and to death so that the flesh may become Word. He has taken upon Himself a body which is destined for the tomb and covered it with glory and light by making it a sharer of His Immortality (Synaxarion, Dec 25).

Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill among men.

Reverend Paul Volmensky, Rector
Nativity, 2023/2024

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