Christmas: A Time For Gratitude And Thanks
Once again we find ourselves at the threshold of a new year and preparing to celebrate the Glorious Birth and Theophany of our Lord Jesus Christ. What better way to begin the season than to take a moment and contemplate with gratitude all that Almighty God has granted us, and reflect on the truly profound meaning of the “Great and Marvelous Mystery”, the Birth of our Savior.
Sadly, it seems at times that the true and beautiful meaning of Christmas has been lost. It is not trees, lights, decorations, and gifts; it is a time of remembering, loving, giving, and forgiving. In that humble manger in Bethlehem centuries ago, a child was born unto us, a child Who restored the relationship between God and man and gave us new life. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). When Jesus was born, God became man and dwelt among us to seek and save us, to set us free, and to lead mankind back to the path of righteousness.
During this season and always, let us give gratitude and thanks for the real message of Jesus Christ’s Birth, let us glorify God for His indescribable gift, and strive to foster the Christmas message of peace, love, and harmony.
The Birth of our Savior is first and foremost the ultimate expression of God’s love for us. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). God loved the world so much that He gave us the perfect gift; He gave us salvation and life through His Son Jesus Christ.
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). With the Birth of Christ, the prophecies and promises of the Old Testament were fulfilled, giving us everlasting hope for eternal life. We are granted hope for a life on earth filled with the Lord’s abundant blessings, and hope of entering the heavenly kingdom of our Lord through His Son, Jesus Christ.
“Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you 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). The world rejoiced at the Birth of Jesus Christ for the Savior had come, bringing great tidings of love, peace, and goodwill to mankind, and light to a darkened world. The love and grace of God shown to the world in the Birth of Jesus Christ brought great joy to the world, not temporary but rather everlasting joy that continues to resonate in our lives today.
Finally, and most importantly, by the grace of God and through the Birth of Baby Jesus, we have been pardoned, and that is more than enough reason to be thankful and have an attitude of gratitude.
With these thoughts in mind, let us reflect on the truly marvelous gift bestowed to mankind by our Lord and give our gift of gratitude by welcoming Him in our hearts and living God-pleasing lives. Let us reach out to others and give of ourselves to the less fortunate as He reaches out to us. And let us forgive one another as He forgave and forgives us.
It is interesting and significant that God’s mercy appeared in the form of a child rather than appearing in power and majesty. He came as a baby and reminds us to receive Him as little children. During His earthly ministry, Jesus showed extraordinary love for children and on many occasions extolled the virtues of children to His apostles. “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). He saw something in children that adults must strive for in order to enter the kingdom of heaven, and thus He invites us to become like little children; to emulate the innocence, simplicity, trust, purity, dependence, faith, and goodness of little children.
Children wholly trust their parents; they trust that their parents know what is good for them, that they will not lead them astray, and thus they hold their hands and follow their lead. As a child does with a parent, we must put our complete trust in our Savior, walk with Him, and let ourselves be guided by Him. The Lord wants us all to become His children, and for that we rejoice.
His Holiness Catholicos Aram I has proclaimed 2011 as the “Year of the Armenian Child”. What a wonderful opportunity for us to recognize and adopt the virtues of humility, pure love, and pure trust that children embody. Children are great examples of how we are to be with God, therefore let us learn from them and become childlike in our worship of our Lord so that we might inherit eternal life and enter the kingdom of heaven. This proclamation by His Holiness is also an important call and a reminder of our responsibilities and obligations to our youth. Our children are the future of our church and our nation; they are our future leaders. As such, we must spare no effort in ensuring that they receive proper education and instruction at an early age so that they develop into good adults with good character and are ready and able to take the helms.
The past few years have been difficult ones for most people in all parts of the world. However, no matter what situation we may find ourselves in, let our circumstances not dictate our feelings of gratitude for our Lord Almighty. May we always be mindful of just how wondrous God’s love is, count our blessings, and give thanks not only during Christmastime or in times of good, but each and every day of our lives. May we “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”(1 Thessalonians 5:16).
On this blessed occasion, with filial love we extend our felicitations to our Pontiff His Holiness Catholicos Aram I, praying for the Lord to grant him many years of good health and prosperity as he guides our church and people. We convey our well wishes to the leadership and brethren of our homeland, our Clergy, Religious and Executive Councils, Delegates, Boards of Trustees, Board of Regents, Principals, educators, organizations, and our faithful parishioners, praying for the Lord’s blessings, love, and mercy to be upon us all throughout the new year.
With these sentiments, we joyously proclaim “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14).
Happy New Year
Christ is Born and Revealed
Blessed is the Revelation of Christ
Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian
Prelate, Western United States