by His Eminence Metropolitan Philip
from The Word, December 1968
It is easy to lose sight of the miracle of Bethlehem in our modern world of pressure politics and commercial Christmas. This annual reminder of the continuous presence of the Divine in our wayward world is a necessary thing for us all; nothing is more usual, nothing is more miraculous than the birth of a child: every child’s birthday is a reminder of the presence of God in the world.
The atheist forces of the world try to tell us that God does not exist, that there is no connection between man and the eternal cosmos, the eternal mystery; they tell us that we are slaves of the world and of the material forces of existence. And yet, our experience tells us that GOD IS: too many aspects of our life clearly reflect the presence of the divine, the presence of God, among us. The birth of a child tells us this truth; the birth of the Divine Child sums up the common experience of all mankind.
The present troubles of our world seem overwhelming; the sorrow, the injustice, the poverty, the wickedness of war, the inhumanity of man to man, the distortion of the divine image which we cause, is everywhere; we have lost sight of God, and we suffer; the renewal that comes with the birth of our Lord can restore us, if we perceive it with the eyes of faith, and the simplicity of a child.
The blessing of our incarnate Lord be with you all, this Feast of his Nativity, and throughout the coming year!
St. Stephen the First Martyr - December 27
Thou art crowned with a royal diadem for contests endured in Christ's name, O First and holy Martyr; thou didst put to shame thy persecutors and see thy Saviour at the right hand of the Father. Ever pray to Him for our souls.
Kontakion of St. Stephen, Tone 3
Yesterday the Master came to us in the flesh, today His servant departs in the flesh; yesterday the King was born in the flesh; today His servant is stoned to death for His sake. Hence the divine and first Martyr Stephen is made perfect.