Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

Nativity sermon

25 December 1967
Theme: The Incarnation, The feasts of the Church   Place: London Parish   Period: 1966-1970   Genre: Sermon

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

Helpless love is both salvation and judgement; helplessness and love that abandons itself into the hands of men is the only thing that finally can call out of hardened hearts, of rough souls of sinful personalities the last possible spark of response. If we are incapable of responding to love that makes itself helpless, that accepts to be vulnerable, that abandons itself into our hands, then we are not capable of responding to anything, then something tragic must happen to us, to our life in order to make us capable of answering the call of love. And in that respect helpless love which is salvation is also a test, a critical moment in our life — and the Greek word ‘crisis’ means judgement.

The coming of Christ into the world is our salvation, the coming of Christ into the world is the Last Judgement already begun; it is our salvation because Divine Love makes itself present, tangible, visible in the world, because it makes itself defenseless and vulnerable, because it calls to us for mercy, because Divine Love made flesh is either received or rejected. But it is also our judgement because if we are incapable of answering to defenselessness with mercy, if we are incapable of [taking] the One Who refuses power which is His to defend Himself against us, then we are judged and we stand condemned.

This is the way in which the message of the Incarnation comes to us; it is stern and at the same time it is so infinitely tender, and warm, and loving. Let us discard the [sternness] of the message not by overlooking it, but by realising how tragic and critical it sounds and by responding with all the sensitiveness, all the perceptiveness there is in our heart, and then salvation truly will be ours.

But the salvation which Christ offers us in that way is not simply the acceptance of the new- born child, of His defenselessness with charity and love and tenderness, it is also something that involves us more profoundly and perhaps more sternly because He says, ‘I have set you an example that you should follow it’. If we are Christ’s, we must learn to become bearers of defenseless love that disarms, of defenseless love that is prepared to make itself wounded, of the defenseless love which brings itself a living sacrifice for the salvation of those who can receive it and unto the propitiation of the sins of those who reject it because they do not know what they are doing.

These are the thoughts which I wish to leave with you on this Christmas day and in this time of preparation, because all our life and all the history of the world is a time of preparation, it is Advent, because Christ who once came into the world i s coming into the world. The first Advent was in humility, defenselessness unto salvation, the other one will be in glory and in power, but also unto salvation, if we only can take the whole of our life and the whole history as Advent, the time of the coming Christ, and if sincerely one day we can long for this day of the Lord, and say together with the Church and with the Spirit, ‘Come, Lord Jesus!’ Amen.

Published: Newsletter № 325, 1998 December

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