In the name of the Father, the Son and
the Holy Ghost.
I wish now to address myself to those of
you who do not speak Russian, and beyond the walls of this church to all
those who can hear our service and pray with us, and be at one with us.
In a night similar to this one, a winter
night, in a manger was born the Son of God Who has come into the world
to bring us a new dimension of life, to proclaim to us God's truth about
Himself and God's truth about men, and not only proclaim it, but to make
it possible for us to participate in this mystery of communion between
God and man. He has brought us a word about God which is a word of
absolute truth, and has proclaimed the greatness of man in terms that
are greater than all the imagination, which man had in the course of
centuries, all the dreams: man called to be united to God as God united
Himself to men in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Man, in the words
of St Ireneus of Lyon, called in his perfection and fulfilment, to be
the glory, the shining, the resplendence of God on earth. We are called
to proclaim to the whole earth this good news that God is one of us, and
that we are the sons and daughters of our eternal Father.
But we must proclaim the Gospel in its
integrity, in an unadulterated manner because it is God speaking, God
proclaiming the truth, and there is no adjustment which can be
acceptable to the Gospel.
The wise men who came to the manger, came with all the
wisdom of the earth, all the knowledge that was then possessed, but they
could recognise in the Babe of Bethleem the incarnated Son of God and
worship Him as their King and their God because they were prepared to
allow divine wisdom to supersede all wisdom of the earth. It is not in
vain that saint Paul has said that compared to wisdom Divine human
wisdom is nothing but folly, a poor thing compared to the greatness of
the mind, and heart, and wisdom of God. And we must have the
determination to open ourselves to the wisdom of God, be prepared to
judge all things of the earth from the point of view of the living God.
Our thoughts, our feelings, our ways fall under the divine judgment . My
ways are not your ways, and My thoughts are not your thoughts; My ways
are so much above yours as My thoughts are greater than yours, - says
But it is not only wisdom, it is also simplicity and
singleness of heart that can both see God, recognise Him and follow Him
with infinite daring. The shepherds came because the ir hearts were
open, because they were prepared to understand that there are things
greater than anything they can imagine, anything they could dream of.
And dreams of men came true: God became man. And He calls us to be a
vanguard of His Kingdom. He sends us into this world to proclaim His
truth, pure, unstained, He sends us into this world to live in such a
way that anyone meeting a Christian, looking into his eyes, into his
life or meeting a Christian community should recognise that these people
are men and women partaking already of the mystery of eternal life.
Short of this we betray our calling. We must each of us and all of us be
a revelation to the world of things eternal. We must learn from St Paul
both the daring and the wholeness, the integrity of our Christian ways.
He says to us: Be follower of me as I am of Christ... He was a
persecutor, an unbeliever, and having met Christ face to face, the risen
Christ, Who he knew had been killed on Calvary, murdered by his own
people, he chose for Him and all his life was changed. Persecution,
danger, beatings, rejection became his lot in orfer for him to be
Christ's only; and to be Christ's only as he puts it means that all life
is nothing but Christ, what he stands for, what he teaches, what he
lived for, what he died for.
And death has no terrors for us, because nothing can
deprive us of eternal life and the loss of temporal life is of no
account to St Paul. He says: To die is not to divest myself of temporary
life but to cloth myself with eternity... He longs to be reunited with
Christ, Whom he has persecuted on earth, and for Whom, for Whose name,
for Whose sake he lives and preaches and warns us, into us not to
subtract or add anything to God's own message about man and about God.
And he calls us in the face of our longing for eternity to accept to
live as long as it is necessary, as tragically as necessary for others
to discover life eternal, the kingdom of God, which is the kingdom of
love, of that love which Christ has revealed into us, love to the end,
love crucified and love risen. Glory be to our Lord, to our God, to our
Saviour for ever and ever. Amen.