On Christmas Eve, Metropolitan Hilarion celebrated the Divine Liturgy at the Moscow church in honor of the icon of the Mother of God "Joy to All who Sorrow" on Bolshaya Ordynka.
On January 6, 2022, on the eve of the Nativity of Christ (Christmas Eve), Metropolitan Hilarion, Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, celebrated Great Vespers and the Divine Liturgy at the Moscow church in honor of the icon of the Mother of God "Joy to All who Sorrow" on Bolshaya Ordynka.
The Archpastor was joined by Archpriest Nikolai Karasev, rector of the church of the Life-Giving Trinity in Starye Cheryomushki, Moscow, and the clergy of the church.
During the Litany of Fervent Supplication, petitions were offered up for deliverance of the coronavirus infection.
After the Litany, Metropolitan Hilarion lifted up a prayer recited at the time of the spread of baneful pestilence.
During the Divine Liturgy, Arseniy Grigoryan, Head of the Postgraduate Department of the Ss Cyril and Methodius Institute of Post-Graduate Studies, was ordained as a deacon.
At the end of the service, the troparion and kontakion of the feast were sung in front of the icon of the Nativity of Christ, which had been placed into the middle of the church.
Vladyka Hilarion then addressed the faithful with the following sermon:
“In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit!
We have entered the time of the celebration of the Nativity of Christ. Today we heard the words of the Apostle Paul from the letter to the Hebrews: “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds” (Heb. 1.1) "Who [is] the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person" (Heb. 1:3).
These words of the Apostle Paul tell us about the Incarnation and that the Lord repeatedly and in various ways through His prophets proclaimed His will to the people of Israel. However, it was pleasing to God that His would be proclaimed and His image manifested through Him Who is the radiance of glory and the image of His hypostasis - through the Only Begotten Son of God, Who came to earth, became incarnate, became a man, lived a human life, suffered and died for sins of people, and came back to life in order to open the way for our resurrection - from death to life.
The Lord did not come in glory, but in humility. He was born not in the royal palace, but in a wretched den, and was laid not in a royal cradle, but in a manger for cattle. However, special signs made known to people that the Savior was born. The shepherds saw the angels, heard them sing a heavenly song: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14). The shepherds were announced that the Savior of the world had been born, and they came to Bethlehem and bowed to the Divine Infant Christ, who was born to save the entire human race. And then the wise men, to whom it was also announced in a special way that the Savior was born in Bethlehem, came and bowed to the Lord Jesus Christ, and brought Him gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh.
In stillness, silence and obscurity, the Lord Jesus Christ is born. Around Him there are no crowds of people worshiping Him. There are only a few people - some incomprehensible and mysterious people from a distant country - to whom God has revealed that He is the Savior of the world. We don't even know what they did or why the Lord chose them. And the shepherds who pastured their flocks and did not think that someday they would be spoken about in the Gospels, and that two thousand years later they would be remembered by believing Christians.
The Lord foretold the coming of His Son through the prophets. We see this throughout the Old Testament. In the book of Genesis, we read about how the Lord told Adam and Eve that a descendant would come from them who would crush the head of the serpent. This is a mysterious reference to the Messiah, who will come to defeat the devil. He will become the New Adam, will fulfill what Adam could not fulfill, and will heal every wound and every sickness of the whole Adam, that is, every man.
We hear in the same book of Genesis how the aged Jacob, blessing his sons, gives a special blessing to Judas. He says: “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor a lawgiver from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes; And to Him shall be the obedience of the people. Binding his donkey to the vine, And his donkey’s colt to the choice vine, He washed his garments in wine, And his clothes in the blood of grapes. His eyes are darker than wine, And his teeth whiter than milk.” (Genesis 49:10-12). This, again, is a prophecy about the Savior Who will come in order to give His life and shed His blood for the salvation of the world.
We read in the books of the prophets that the Redeemer will come. For instance, in the book of the prophet Isaiah: "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel." (Isaiah 7:14). All these prophecies, expectations and aspirations of the people of Israel came true when the Lord Savior was born into the world.
Yes, He was not expected at all. They expected that a powerful king from the royal family would come, reign over Israel, restore the trampled injustice, expel the invaders from their land, and thanks to him the people of Israel would reign over all nations. That is why, when Jesus went out to preach, not many recognized Him as the Messiah, and the people of Israel rejected Him - they were waiting for someone different.
But the Lord was pleased to come in order to save not only the people of Israel, but the whole world, to change the history of all mankind. So that even now, two thousand years later, people would worship Him. And as long as the earth will stand, the worship of the born Lord the Savior, who came to open the way to salvation for all people and give eternal life to each person, will continue among different nations. And each of us in his own life, in his spiritual experience, partakes in this salvation, given by the Lord Jesus Christ.
That is why the feast of the Nativity of Christ has a special meaning for all of us. That is why, on the feast of the Nativity of Christ, we glorify the One about Whom the prophets spoke in many ways, and Who in the last days came to show us the face of God and continues to do so two thousand years later.
We pray to the Lord Jesus Christ, who was born in Bethlehem, so that He would always be among us, keep us from all evil, lead us to salvation and to eternal life. Amen.
I congratulate you all on the upcoming Feast of the Nativity of Christ!”
DECR Communication Service