"Let us now go over to Bethlehem–and see this thing that has happened–which the Lord has made known to us." (Luke 2:15)
On the first year of the third Christian Millennium–New Year 2001–again we exchange good wishes and celebrate the glorious birth and the divine revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. The glory of Christmas is an invitation to the Christian world to renew and reinvigorate the faith. The rays of the bright star of Bethlehem penetrate and brighten our spirits with warmth–that we may go to Bethlehem to see the "Great and Marvelous Mystery" which was revealed to the world.
The star that illuminated the world was not a mere event–but a sign of Christ’s manifestation. It was a sign the magi followed–a mystery experienced by the shepherds–and the truth comprehended by all those who received the "Sun of Righteousness".
Indeed this was the miracle of the Revelation–the appearance of the Glory of the Lord to the world. His coming to Bethlehem was a magnificent Revelation–while the shining rays of the bright star were a sign of God’s emergence from the heavens as the light of our lives.
The shepherds were overwhelmed with the glow of God’s Glory pronouncing Christ’s birth by the angels–and they became the first visitors to witness God’s revelation. They saw with their eyes and hearts "Him–whom heaven and earth could not contain". As the expression of His supreme love–He became incarnate and was made man and with His perfect birth He humbled Himself for mankind.
What they heard and saw was exactly as the angels told them. The Savior was born–who was the anointed Lord–a child wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in the manger. God had come to this earth to live among people; to reveal Himself to mankind–that people could lead their lives with peace–love–good will–truth and justice glorifying and praising the Lord.
The good shepherds witnessed what they heard and saw in the manger–and they glorified and praised the Lord.
The same bright star and the same good news delivered by the angels brightened the life of our spiritual father–St. Gregory the Illuminator. Following the example set by the shepherds–St. Gregory too–from His pit in Khor Virab–with the eyes of His soul–He went on a spiritual pilgrimage to Bethlehem–and saw the newborn King–worshipped Him–and offered to Him our nation. Our nation was reborn 1700 years ago in New Bethlehem–and from then on–the same star continued to illuminate the Armenian horizon. Armenia became the first Christian nation in the world.
1700 years ago–St. Gregory the Illuminator led our king and queen–palace courtiers and armed forces–nobles and peasants–and the rest of our nation to take a vow to follow God’s commandmen’s–and live with peace–harmony and love.
Hence–we are celebrating the renewal and reaffirmation of the same pledge to our Lord.
May the past and future commemorations of the 1700th anniversary of Christianity in Armenia awaken all of us to renew our solemn promise in our Christian faith.
May the Christmas celebration of the year 2001 with "the Great and Marvelous Mystery" be revealed across the Armenian horizon–that we may all witness God’s revelation to the shepherds–as well as glorify and praise our Lord together.
May the shining of the star of Bethlehem radiate throughout Armenia–Artstakh–and all over the Diaspora–illuminating the lives of the Armenian people.
On the New Year of 2001 and the Glorious Nativity of our Lord and the 1700 Anniversary–let us congratulate one another as pilgrims–with the example of the shepherds–all of us together let us go over to Bethlehem–to our spiritual centers in Jerusalem–Constantinople–and Holy Sees of Cilicia and Etchmiadzin. May our lives be transformed by the tidings of Christmas with love–peace and goodwill–and with renewed oath let us build our Fatherland and exalt our Church.
With affectionate love,
Bishop Moushegh Mardirossian
Prelate–Western United States