Christmastide is upon us once more, warming our hearts and lifting our spirits as we joyfully embrace the glorious news of the Birth and Theophany of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and welcome the dawn of a New Year. Praise be to Almighty God for the indescribable, immeasurable, incomparable, and enduring gift of His only-begotten Son, and for the precious gift of another year.
There’s nothing quite like this time of year; hearts grow tender, the world slows down as we revel in the joy of the season with family and friends, enjoying spectacular displays of lights, the enchanting sound of familiar Christmas carols, and exchanging gifts with loved ones. We prepare to commence a New Year and resolve to better ourselves as we look forward to new opportunities and new hopes, wishes, and dreams.
This blessed time of year is indeed the most fitting occasion for renewal as we close one chapter of our lives and turn the page to a new chapter, a fresh start. Over two millennia ago, on that holy night in a humble manger in Bethlehem, the angel heralded “good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). It was not the start of a new chapter for mankind, rather the rise of a new dawn. The Birth and Revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ was indeed transformative, ushering in a new era and breathing new life and new light into a darkened world. Mankind was lost, mired in sin, and beyond help when, from the abundance of God’s love and mercy, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14), granting new and abundant life for all who receive Him with faith.
God became man to restore, reconcile, and renew our relationship with Him, to preach a new and life-giving message of love, peace, compassion, and salvation, and to show us “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Through the incarnation, God renewed and regenerated mankind and changed the fate and destiny of humankind. The Birth and Revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ is not a one-time moment in history. Christ is ever-present; His saving grace, love, joy, and peace, and His gift of a new, transformed, and abundant life, is one that will give to the end of the age and is available to all who will receive it.
Jesus came so that we may have life, and that we may have it more abundantly (John 10:10). Through baptism and chrismation, each and every one of us was reborn as a child of God and renewed by the grace of the Holy Spirit. We were sanctified and began a new life in Christ. Rebirth and renewal however is a continuous process, and involves mind, heart, and spirit. Indeed Jesus underscored the absolute importance of renewal as He said to Nicodemus, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Christmastide is truly the greatest and most apt opportunity and invitation to “Put off the old man and put on the new man, renewed in the spirit of your mind, and renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him” (Ephesians 4:23-24, Colossians 3:9-10).
Let us, therefore, undergo transformation in our lives.
Let us renew our faith.
Let us renew our hope.
Let us renew our love.
And let us become renewed as a nation, and in our spiritual and national calling, particularly as His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, has proclaimed 2017 “The Year of Renewal,” giving further impetus to the urgency of rebirth and revitalization.
With these thoughts, we greet our extended Prelacy family of clergy, delegates, councils, parishes, schools, committees, sister organizations, and sponsors, wishing for peace and blessings to all, a better and brighter year for all, for our homelands of Armenia and Artsakh, and for our brothers and sisters in Syria and Aleppo especially.
As the glory of the Lord shone around the shepherds, we pray for the grace and glory of God to shine upon you, and for the Christmas spirit to sanctify, renew, and fill your lives with love, light, hope, peace, goodness, and gladness all throughout the year.
May our individual, family, and community life be renewed and revitalized by the everlasting presence and guidance of the newborn King, and may we serve for the progress of our church and nation with renewed and reinvigorated faith and sense of duty.
May the Christ Child be born anew in our hearts and generate new life within us as we beseech in the words of St. Nerses the Graceful, “Renewer of the old, make me also new, adorn me afresh.”
HAPPY NEW YEAR
CHRIST IS BORN AND REVEALED
BLESSED IS THE REVELATION OF CHRIST
Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian
Prelate, Western United States
New Year and Christmas 2017