““Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.”
– Mark 10:14
Beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord,
Is there anything in life so joyous and precious as seeing a tiny hand clutch one’s finger, or two little eyes looking into yours? There are few aspects of God’s kingdom which are so sacred as the creation and birth of new life. When Presbytera and I first became parents two years ago, perhaps the greatest joy we felt was seeing how much happiness a baby brought to other members of our families, as well as our entire church community. After all, when a baby is born, so is a grandparent, great grandparent, uncle, aunt, brother, sister, friend, and so on. It is truly one of life’s great joys.
In addition to the Nativity of the Lord on December 25, there are two other births which we celebrate in our Orthodox liturgical cycle. One is the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist on June 24; the other is the Nativity of the Theotokos on the eighth of this month. These feasts are significant because our Church typically celebrates the day that a saint died, the day the saint was translated to the kingdom. Only the Mother of God and Saint John the Baptist are given the special honor of having their births celebrated in our ecclesiastical year, because of the specific roles they played in God’s plan for our salvation.
What is also significant about these feast days is, like babies born into a family and church community, the celebration of new life. I am thrilled every time I look into our own church community on a Sunday and see young families with young children or that are expecting! Last year, more baptisms and chrismations were celebrated in our parish than in any of the last twenty-five years. Already this year, I have served at eight baptisms, and five couples in our community are expecting new additions to their families this year! What encouraging signs for the future of our parish! What joy this brings to all of us who gather together as a church family! Even so, all of this is only a fraction of the love and joy that God feels for us.
Our holy Orthodox Church integrates this joy into our festal seasons, acknowledging full well that these are not insignificant in the history of salvation, or each day in our lives as individuals. Therefore, with all our hearts let us celebrate the nativity feasts of our Church, as well as nativities in our own parish. Also, on a personal note, please remember to keep my family and I in your prayers as we prepare to welcome the newest addition to our family. Thank you for all the love and support each of you have shown each of us these last two years!
As we enter into the new ecclesiastical year and celebrate the Nativity of the Panagia this month, may her joy, her blessing, and her intercessions be with us and all our families always.
With love in Christ,
Father Niko Bekris