Serbian True Orthodox Church
Nativity Encyclical 2014
Hierarchical Council of the STOC
Under the Presidency of His Grace Akakije
Bishop of Uteshiteljevo
To All the Faithful Children of St. Sava’s Church
Congratulations on the great and joyous feastday of the Birth of Christ:
CHRIST IS BORN! GLORIFY HIM!
But when the fullness of the time was come,
God sent forth His Son, made of a woman,
made under the law, to redeem them that were
under the law, that we might receive
the adoption of sons.
At the very beginning of mankind’s existence, only Adam and Eve, the first-created people, lived in Paradise. They were especially blessed by direct fellowship with their Creator and God, Who communed with them as Father with His beloved children.
For all of Creation, surely there is no greater blessedness or greater joy than to delight in looking upon its Creator and communing with Him directly. Alas, the fall of our first parents into sin with the breaking of God’s commandments resulted in the human race falling out of communion with God, for sin was like a sharp dividing stone that stood between Man and God. After that first blessedness, Man fell into a state of miserable apostasy.
The wisdom of God’s love, however, towards man who had fallen away from venerating Him, initiated the oikonomia for the salvation of the human race in which the Lord Himself came down from the heavens and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became a man for our sake and our salvation. Yes, God took on flesh, so that through His humanity He could enable Man’s return to Him.
Let us turn our attention to the reading appointed by the Church Typicon which we listen to every year at the Liturgy on Christmas (Galatians 4:4-6). In it the Holy Apostle Paul says that God sent His Son to the Earth for the redemption of us who were under the law, so that we might be received as sons. Let us clarify what “under the law” means: all peoples were under the law, i.e., all people were under the curse of the law as sinners. When God became a man, however, He took the sin of the human race upon Himself, redeeming all of us who were under the law and deeming us worthy of the inexpressible mercy of being adopted sons of God.
Now in our thoughts let us stand before the glorious place of His birth incarnate in the flesh, the Bethlehem manger, and reflect upon this great mystery of adoption. Before us in the Bethlehem manger lies the New-Born Divine Child. In His divine essence He is inaccessible and terrible, so that even the angels dare not look upon Him; yet at the same time in virtue of His human nature He is Man, completely like us except without sin. He lies in a manger Who is at the same time God and Man: from this springs the truth that we are in our human nature His brothers, and as He is the Son of God, we are through Him sons of God as well. Of course, the Son of God has God as His Father, father according to Divine nature because before all the ages the Son was begotten of the Father. As He is One with the Father, He possesses His Father’s Divine nature. God is our Father, not according to nature, but by grace and mercy. Thus, we by the birth in the flesh (incarnation) of the Son of God became sons of God by His grace and mercy. In this lies the deep meaning of the Incarnation of the Son of God, through Whom we were deemed worthy to become sons of God.
Thus, standing before the Bethlehem manger, we reflect upon the mystery of our adoption. Looking upon the Divine child, God who appeared in human form, a feeling of special grace fills the soul, the feeling of a renewed closeness to our Creator, the poignant closeness of a son with his Father. Joy fills the mind, for the fullness of time has come. The Son of God has been born of the Virgin Mary, and we have received the adoption of sons. What does this closeness and sonship entail? It obliges us to endlessly offer thanks to God that He so willed to accomplish the work of our salvation, transcending every earthly conception of love. Instead of punishing the hopeless culprit, Man, He not only took the punishment of death on the Cross upon Himself, but also made men His brothers by sharing their human nature, and sons of His Beloved Father by grace.
Today many false tongues of the ecumenists mindlessly say that all people are sons of God.
But are they?
The Holy Hieromartyr Nicholas (Velimirovic) of Serbia replies to this question,
“God is the Creator of all men, but He is the father only of those who believe in the Son of God and sonship. ‘Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: he that acknowlegeth the Son hath the Father also’ (1 Jn 2:23). All men are God’s creation and potential sons of God. But the true sons of God are ‘as many as have received Him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe in His name: which were born, not of blood… but of God.” (Jn. 1:12-13) Special care must be taken to distinguish between Christians and non-Christians, that is, between those born of God and created by God, in our times of vulgar propaganda that all religions are the same, flattening mountains into valleys, and not raising valleys to mountains.”
It follows that adopted sons are only those who believe in the Son of God and their sonship, whereas Christian heretics and the members of other religions are God’s creation, but not His sons.
Our adoption as sons of God makes us Orthodox Christians brothers and sisters to each other, one Christian family, the children of one Heavenly Father. As brothers and sisters in Christ God, we have a duty to support each other, giving ourselves, one another, and all our life to Christ God. In our minds, before the Bethlehem cave, let us light a communal badnjak (yuletide) fire with fiery prayers that the blessedness of adoption which Our Lord granted us become the everyday grateful beat of our hearts.
In this glowing Nativity joy of adoption, we wish all the faithful children of St. Sava’s Serbian Church, True Orthodox Christians, brothers and sisters in Christ the Lord, happiness in the coming year of 2015, with the hope and faith that it will be blessed and bring the rebirth of every human soul, and the rebirth of our people as a great Christian family as a whole. Of course, without True Orthodoxy, no true rebirth can be spoken of; and thus we pray to Bethlehem’s Divine Child to bestow His Divine blessing on all those who fight and labor for the rebirth of the Serbian Church and the preservation of the patristic faith. To those who in their weakness are still in communion with the apostate hierarchy of the Belgrade patriarchy, we wish illumination from God and a speedy reunion with the True Serbian Church.
With these wishes we also offer a tearful cry that the Lord deliver us from the cruel yoke of the godless democratic powers, and that the autocratic crown of the Nemanja dynasty again shine over the Serbian land. For just as there is no salvation of the soul without adoption by the Heavenly Father, just as there is no healthy society without the family whose head is the father, master of the house, so likewise there is no healthy and divinely-blessed state without an autocratic King and father.
With such prayerful wishes, calling for the blessing of God upon all of you, once more we congratulate you with St. Sava’s Nativity greeting:
The Peace of God be with you! Christ is born!
Uteshiteljevo, Nativity 2014
Your intercessors before the Divine Child of Bethlehem,
+Bishop Akakije of Uteshiteljevo
+Bishop Nektarije of Shumadia