His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America
Greetings to the Northern New Jersey Christmas Pageant
Saint Athanasios Greek Orthodox Church
Beloved children in the Lord,
I am so happy to be with you – the dear children of our northern New Jersey communities, as well as your parents and siblings. A few days before Christmas, I think of the journey of the Virgin Mary and Joseph, when they went to Bethlehem.
In a very early Christian writing not found in the New Testament, called the Protevangelion of James – which is a source for some Church traditions – we hear a detail of the journey not usually mentioned in the accounts. of Christmas.
It is said that some of Joseph’s children – from a previous marriage – came, and that Joseph’s son, Simon, drove the donkey that carried the Virgin Mary.1
Personally, I like this detail, because it demonstrates the involvement of children in the journey – which is what we are doing here right now. This Christmas show aims to involve our children and make them part of the story.
If we think of what would have happened just a few days before the birth of the Lord, we have the impression that it could have been a very anxious time. We already know that there was no place for them at the inn.2 They had to seek some form of protection and found the cave, which was used to house animals like cattle and donkeys.
But hearing that Joseph’s children have joined Our Lady in the Cave3 is a heartwarming image, because it shows how supportive the family can be. And that’s exactly why we’re gathered here tonight, to be a family in Christ. Like the children of Joseph, who helped guide the Virgin to the Grotto of Bethlehem, we are here to guide one another and inspire one another to seek where Christ can be born in our hearts.
Thank you all for coming here tonight to show our children the importance of family and what it really means.
I would also like to express our gratitude to our host – the wonderful Community of Saint Athanasios here in Paramus – for their warm welcome.
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2022! May God bless us all!