Note that the Orthodox Church of Ukraine celebrates the Nativity of Christ on January 7.

Metropolitan Epiphanius (Epifaniy) of Kyiv and All Ukraine

To the Most Reverend Archpastors, the God-loving Pastors, the Honourable Monastics,

and All the Orthodox Faithful of Ukraine

Dear brothers and sisters!

Christ is born! Let us glorify Him!

Such short and simple words in this our traditional Christian greeting, yet how deep, because they testify to our faith that the promise of God has been fulfilled, the Saviour of the world has truly appeared, the second Person of the Holy Trinity—the pre-eternal Son of God—is born of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, becoming also the Son of man. “For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given” (Is 9:6), the holy Isaiah prophesies, showing that the birth of Jesus Christ has come to pass even for us. 

It is this thought that St. Gregory the Theologian explains when he says of the Saviour’s birth:

He appears for our sake, being born, so that as He gave us existence, He would also grant us blessed existence…. This is what we celebrate, this is what we glorify this day: the coming of God to men so that we might change place, or better, return to God…so that, taking off the old man we might put on the new one (Eph 4:22-24), and as we died in Adam so might we live in Christ (1 Cor 15:22), being also born, crucified, buried, and raised with Christ.

Through the sinful fall of our forefathers, evil, corruption, and death entered into human nature itself and injured it. Therefore man, created by God for blessed and eternal existence, in separating from the Creator became subject to suffering and death, from which he cannot escape by his own power. Why can’t he? Because man did not create himself and come into existence by his own will, but he is God’s creation, created by His will from the dust of the earth. Therefore man cannot be purified from the power of sin without God, but he needs a Saviour to free him from the slavery of evil, restore his nature, and return him to union with the Creator.

The pre-eternal God became man and, as the holy Isaiah prophesied, “He has borne our infirmities and suffered out diseases…by His wounds have we been healed” (Is 53:3-4). This is why heaven and earth rejoice, why angels give glory and humans take comfort, for the Vanquisher of death has come, the Saviour is born, who causes us to be reborn to eternal life.

We know that the Lord Jesus Christ did all that is necessary for the salvation of all men, but it depends on each of us individually whether we accept this gift of eternal life prepared for us. Therefore, the Feast of the Nativity of Christ is not only a reminder of long-ago historical events in Bethlehem of Judea, it is not only an opportunity for good dreams and wishes, for communicating with relatives and friends, for gifts and pleasures. The Nativity of Christ is a personal appeal to everyone to respond with their very lives to all that the Saviour has done for us.

In what does this response consist? It consists in fulfilling the will of God, set forth for us in the two commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all you heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind…and your neighbour as your own self” (Mt 22:37-39). Sin divides, but love unites. Sin has separated us from God, it makes us strangers to one another, but love reveals to us the union amongst ourselves in goodness and truth. Love returns us to the union once lost with the heavenly Father.

Therefore in these holidays, understanding the meaning of the Nativity of Christ, rejoicing that the Son of God is born “for us men and for our salvation,” we must urge ourselves to fulfil the will of God, to eradicate from our hearts enmity, untruth, and everything that distances us from the Lord and from our neighbours, everything contrary to love. This is no easy task, and success is not attained in an instant, but it is for this that the Saviour has come into the world, to help us in its accomplishment, to strengthen us in the struggle with sin, and to give us the power to defeat the devil.

Dear brothers and sisters!

You all know that, on December 15, 2018 in Kyiv’s St. Sophia Cathedral, the Unification Council took place to lay the foundation to restore the unity of Ukrainian Orthodoxy. The doors of our one local Orthodox Church of Ukraine are open to all who wish to serve God and the people together in her.

Above all else there is a lot of joint work to strengthen this unity. First, we must continue to lift up prayers for the Church, for the overcoming of hostility, and for the increase of love. We must also set aside our past confrontations, alienation, and hostilities, because only through forgiveness for one another can we truly establish a single, local, autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Let us be watchful: let us reject calls to incite hostility or violence, and let us accept whatever serves love and peace. 

Every time we say the words of the Lord’s Prayer, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us,” let us realize that we should not be like the merciless borrower in the parable, who begged the king to forgive him a great debt but did not wish to forgive his neighbour’s much smaller debt.

Dear brothers and sisters!

In these holidays, I greet all of you from my heart with the Feast of the Nativity of Christ, and also with the New Year. I greet the President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, the Verkhovna Rada [Parliament] of Ukraine, and the Ukrainian government. We convey our joint, warm greetings to the Armed Forces of Ukraine and to all our brave defenders who sacrificially defend the Fatherland: we lift up our prayers to God for them and ask Him to protect them. From Kyiv’s Golden-Domed Monastery we also send greetings and prayerful good wishes to those who celebrate the birth of the Son of God in conditions of occupation, captivity, or unjust imprisonment, and we ask the Lord to support and protect them.

In these joyful days let us give thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ for all His gracious deeds revealed to us, to our Church, and to Ukraine. May our All-Merciful God forgive all of our sins both voluntary and involuntary. May He establish one, local, autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church. May He grant victory and a just peace to our country. May He bless Ukraine and the whole Ukrainian people in 2019.

For our sake the Son of God came into the world in humility, calling everyone to peace, harmony, and unity, so that we may walk in the way of truth and not succumb to delusion. Let us do everything that depends on us to give a good answer to this call.

Christ is born! Let us glorify Him!


Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine

Nativity of Christ 2018/2019

City of Kyiv

This Nativity Message appeared in Ukrainian earlier today at GalInfo. Translated by Giacomo Sanfilippo.

To His Beatitude, Epiphanius, Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine

Іс полла еті, Деспота!

To all of our Orthodox brothers and sisters in Ukraine

Христос народився! Славімо Його!







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