Sunday before the Nativity


On January 3, on Sunday before the Nativity, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our temple. Following the reading from the Gospel he preached a homily in Russian. The English translation of that homily is as follows:

“Dear brothers and sisters! Last Sunday the Church commemorated all the righteous of the Old Testament who awaited the coming of Christ. Today, the Sunday before the Birth of Christ on earth, the Church remembers all those in the Old Testament who were related to Christ by blood and those who spoke of His Birth as a man. That is why today we have read Christ’s family tree from the Gospel of St Matthew.”
“In this way the Church shows us that Christ was a historical figure, not a mythical or a legendary person. He really lived on Earth and was part of the human history. And in a more profound and spiritual way today’s celebration and today’s reading from the Gospel teaches us that Jesus Christ really became a man. Тhe Son of God really took on human nature. He was not a ghost, an apparition, a myth, a distant imagined god, the abstract god of philosophers. Such a god does not have a family tree. Our God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He has flesh and blood, human ancestors, many of whom sinned greatly, but like David, also repented greatly. By taking on human nature, the Son of God became like us in all ways, in flesh and blood, in tears and sweat, in mind and soul, in heart and will, He differed from us in only one way, He did not sin. Since we know that Christ’s human nature remained sinless, He shows us the way that we too can go in order to strive to avoid sin and so improve and transform our failing human nature.”
“However, the fact that Christ took on human nature and has a family tree, has another meaning too. Christ is descended from Adam through Abraham and David, through His ancestors Joachim and Anna – in His human nature He is therefore related to us and we are related to Him. He is a cousin of our ancestors. He is one of our own forebears. He is our relative and we are His relatives, we belong to the same family. It is now that we understand that with Christ we belong to a family, a family of Saints and sinners, but a family of which He is the Head and we are His children, the children whose Mother is the Church and the Father is God. And believing in the Fatherhood of God, we believe in the Brotherhood of Man.”
“And our Lord Jesus Christ came to save this human brotherhood who became Man, so through Him we may become true children of God, not only by the fact of our creation by God, but by divine grace and our faith which make us saved in God.”
“These thoughts may be seen proved in the life of the Holy hierarch Peter, Metropolitan of Rus’ whose memory we celebrate today. St. Peter was born in the region of Volyn which is presently on the territory of Ukraine. But he finished his life in the city of Moscow which is, of course, on the territory of Russia. In his time Rus’ was already divided. St. Peter lived in the principlality of Halych and Volyn. But it was the will of God that he was appointed to be the Metropolitan in Vladimir, on the territory subjected to a different prince. And later St. Peter moved his residence to Moscow, which was also God’s will. His life shows us that the Church should not have boundaries. Many servants of God may be born in one country, belong to a certain nation but live and serve in a different country. In fact, many of us here present are a proof of that. We are from different countries but now live in America and belong to this parish. The Church is in fact universal, and we all belong to the great family which is human race. And if we are Orthodox Christians, we belong to a great family which is one, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. We still have to love our countries and be good citizens and patriots, but we should be aware that our human brotherhood in Christ, under the Fatherhood of God and Motherhood of the Church are very important and must define our spiritual life.”
“And therefore, dear brothers and sisters, preparing for the solemnity of the Birth of our Lord in flesh, let us become aware of our human brotherhood, as well as of our sonship to God, and let us implore our holy Ancestors: “Holy Fathers of Christ, pray to God for us!”

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a short sermon in English and stressed the main thoughts of his Russian homily. He also called the parishioners to properly prepare for the feast of the Nativity and expressed his gratitude to Natalia Soho who already arranged for a Christmas tree and set it up in the church.