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The almost 300 million people of Indonesia need your helping hands so that they can be reached by the Gospel of salvation......

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  • Basil Yakimov
    Archimandrite Daniel Bambang Dwi Byantoro was an honourable guest of the 41st Conference of Russian Orthodox Youth. The following address was written by
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 2, 2006
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      Archimandrite Daniel Bambang Dwi Byantoro was an honourable guest of the
      41st Conference of Russian Orthodox Youth. The following address was
      written by Archimandrite Daniel on the request of Rev Simeon Kichakov,
      parish priest of the parish of the Joy of All Who Sorrow.
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      The Meaning of Christ's Nativity Christ is Born!! Glorify Him!!!

      Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, the Parishioners of The Church of Our
      Lady the Joy of All Who Sorrow,

      During this time people all over the world are rejoicing for the coming of
      the Holy Season. However, many people have lost sight of the real meaning
      and reason of the celebration. Christmas has become commercialized and
      secularized. It has become the occasion of indulging in lust and reveling.
      People have forgotten that Christmas has nothing to do with Santa Claus,
      with the Christmas tree, nor with the exchanging of gifts. These secular
      parts of the celebration in many parts of the world have replaced the
      essential meaning of the Feast, namely the Descent of the Word of God into
      the World.
      The birth of anyone in a family is the cause of joy and rejoicing, because
      birth signifies the beginning of a new life, and the entrance of that life
      into the family. Therefore people in most cultures celebrate their
      birthday, because a human being is by nature a lover of life and a hater of
      death. Therefore when there is birth in the family, everybody is happy, but
      when there is death in their midst, everybody is sorrowful and in deep
      sadness. It is because God created human beings not in order to die but in
      order to live forever, because: "He is not a God of the dead, but of the
      living: for all live unto Him." ( Luke 20:38, KJV), and "For I have no
      pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn
      yourselves, and live ye" (Ezekiel 18:32, KJV). Therefore every human being
      has a nostalgia for life and an aversion to death, because "He (God) hath
      set eternity in their heart" (Ecclesiastes 3:11). If the birth of any human
      being in this world signifies the coming of new life, the birth of Christ
      is more than just another birth of a human being, because the birth of
      Christ is the fulfilment and answer to that nostalgia for life and eternity
      that are embedded within the human psyche and heart. His birth is
      signifying that "God is with us" (Matthew 1:23). Christ, being the Word of
      God, Who is "God" in His Essence, is now entering our human nature. He
      assumed our humanity and sanctified and glorified it, and forever this
      assumed humanity of ours is united without commingling nor confusion with
      His divine nature. Thus Christ’s divine nature is forever united to our
      human nature in His One Person. His divine nature is forever with and in
      our human nature, indeed in Christ God is with us forever. God has assumed
      our human nature, therefore He has infused this assumed nature with His own
      divine life, so that our human nature is rescued and redeemed from the
      power of sin, death, decay and the Devil. Hence our human nature is saved
      from its corruption, our human nature is saved from sin that resulted in
      death, because the birth of Christ is to "save His people from their sins"
      ( Matthew 1:21).
      With this understanding in mind, therefore, it is clear to us that
      Christmas is not just a simple celebration of the Birthday of Baby Jesus,
      but it has much more profound existential and spiritual meaning. It strikes
      to the core of our being.

      The Scriptures tell us that when God created Adam and Eve, He commanded
      them as follows: "And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree
      of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of
      good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest
      thereof thou shalt surely die" (Genesis 2:16-17). According to these verses
      God commanded the first human being that: "Of every tree of the garden thou
      mayest freely eat "but only" of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,
      thou shalt not eat", because "in the day that thou eatest thereof thou
      shalt surely die". The warning "thou shalt surely die" is conditioned by
      the fact that only "in the day that thou eatest thereof" that death would
      happen to them. Which means: if they never ate, they would have never died.
      Therefore death came into being only as a result of man's disobedience to
      God's command. Death is not part of man’s original nature, but it is a
      parasite that came into being when man is separated from the True Source of
      Life, God Himself, through sin and disobedience. Therefore it is said in
      the Scriptures, that "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23), and that
      "by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin" (Romans 5:12).

      Our existence was created by God through His Eternal Logos. As it is said
      "All things were made by Him (the Word/Logos); and without Him was not any
      thing made that was made" ( John 1:3). More particularly God: "created man
      in His own image, in the image of God created He him" ( Genesis 1:27),
      because God decided to make man "in Our image, after Our likeness" (Genesis
      1:26). In the other parts of the Scriptures we read that Christ "is the
      image of the invisible God" (Colossians 1:15), and that Christ is also
      "being in the form (likeness) of God" (Philipians 2:6), therefore Christ
      the Logos is the natural and the eternal "image" and "likeness" of God
      Himself, being "the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His
      person" (Hebrews 1:3).

      When we were created in the image and after the likeness of God, it means
      that we were created with the Logos as the prototype and the foundation of
      our being and existence. Apart from the Logos there is no true foundation
      of human nature. It is no wonder then why Tertullian said that the soul of
      a human being is Christian by nature, but sin perverted it into something
      else. It is because the foundation and prototype of our humanity is the
      Logos Himself, Who is the natural and eternal image and likeness of God.

      When a human being separates himself from Christ, his humanity and
      existence are distorted. Sin has distorted such human existence, and only
      the natural Prototype of man, the Logos, alone is able to amend and to
      restore our humanity into its pristine beauty.

      The Logos of God out of His love for His antitype, humanity, did exactly
      that. He assumed the nature of His antitype whom He Himself has created,
      and united it with His own one eternal divine Person, so the force of
      destruction and death within it may be destroyed by the power of His divine
      might and nature. And the Incarnate Logos did it by allowing His human
      nature to enter into the realm of death through the Crucifixion. So that
      the Cross becomes the gate through which He entered Hades, and through
      "death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the
      devil" (Hebrews 2:14), and through His resurrection He "hath abolished
      death, and hath brought life and immortality to light" (II Timothy 1:10).

      Only by understanding this ultimate purpose of Christ's coming can we
      understand the meaning of Christmas, which we are celebrating today
      correctly. Christmas should not be taken lightly, it has nothing to do with
      the mere sentimentality of a Christmas carol or with the romanticism of a
      white Christmas or with the beauty of Christmas’s tree decorations. Even all
      these things can be good for making closer the relationship among family
      members.
      More importantly, Christmas must be an occasion of joyful contemplation and
      happy reflection on how much God loves us, since He sent His only begotten
      Son in order to restore us into the true destiny of our existence.
      Christmas has united all opposites within the one embrace of God’s love and
      life. Humanity has been united with Divinity in the person of the Baby born
      of the Holy Virgin; the angelic world has been united with the human world
      in the persons of the angels in the field with the shepherds that watched
      their flocks. Heaven is united with earth as the "multitude of the heavenly
      host praising God" (Luke 2:13) were watched by the shepherds in awe and
      wonder of the divine praise. The educated is united with the uneducated, as
      the magi from the east together with the shepherds with one mind offered
      their worship and adoration to the newborn Son of the Virgin (Matthew 2:11,
      Luke 2:15-17). The rich is united with the poor, as the magi-kings from the
      east with the poor parents of the baby together dropped their knees to the
      new born King in the manger.

      Yes, Christmas is the source of peace that reconciles what is
      irreconcilable. But are we, who celebrate such a feast of peace and
      reconciliation, also willing to become the instruments of peace? Can we
      find peace within our heart so that we can in turn spread that same peace
      to all people surrounding us? Christmas is not a calling to a selfish
      enjoyment, nor is it a calling to selfish indulgence of the flesh. It is a
      calling for spreading peace, reconciliation and salvation. It is a calling
      for service. How much more meaningful it is if during such a Christmas
      celebration, instead of using our money to buy expensive clothes and
      sumptuous food and drinks to the point of drunkenness, we use it to help
      some worthy cause, such as mission work to spread the Gospel, to spread the
      message of Orthodoxy to people other than our own, who have never heard the
      apostolic teaching of the Church. There are still millions of people who
      need to hear the Orthodox teaching of the Apostles, that has been kept
      intact within the Orthodox Church. We need to go to them by sending
      missionaries to do this work, as it is commanded by Christ: "Go ye,
      therefore, and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father,
      and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things
      whatsoever I have commanded you …" (Matthew 28:19-20). Not all of us are
      able to go to do missionary works, but we can help missionaries of the
      Church to do their duty by helping them with our financial contributions.
      As we are commanded to be "faithful in helping other followers of the Lord,
      even the ones you didn't know before. ... good enough to welcome them and
      to send them on their mission in a way that God's servants deserve. ...
      they decided not to accept help from anyone who wasn't a follower. We must
      support people like them, so that we can take part in what they are doing
      to spread the truth" (III John 1:5-8). Having seen the purpose of Christ's
      coming into the world and our calling to spread the good news that was
      wrought by Christ's coming, it is up to us to decide what we will do to
      have a more meaningful Christmas, rather than just spending it for food and
      selfish enjoyment. The mission field is crying for your help, people are in
      need of the message of Orthodoxy, but only a few people are willing to do
      it, and fewer still who are willing to partake in the works through their
      contribution. The almost 300 million people of Indonesia need your helping
      hands so that they can be reached by the Gospel of salvation. Listen to the
      anguish of God’s heart as He sees the world lost in perdition and sin, when
      He said: "Then saith He unto His disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous,
      but the labourers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that
      He will send forth labourers into His harvest" (Matthew 9: 37-38).
      Yes, Indonesia is a field ready to be harvested, but are we willing to take
      up the challenge to pray for the labourers, to help the labourers, or to be
      labourers ourselves for the Gospel of Christ? Christ has done so much for
      our salvation, which we are celebrating at this time of Christmas. Are we
      willing also in turn to do things for Christ by heeding to the anguish of
      His heart for the field to be harvested? Your neighbours offshore to the
      north are awaiting your opened heart for the Gospel of Christ. May this
      Christmas change the way you look at how you can spend your Christmas more
      meaningfully for Christ! Amen.

      Archimandrite Daniel BD Byantoro
      Gereja Orthodox Indonesia (GOI, The Indonesian Orthodox Church
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