Message on the Observance of Orthodox Christmas
January 6, 1986
My Dear Friends,
On behalf of my fellow Americans, I am honored to send you our warmest greetings on this day, this deeply holy day of Christmas for Orthodox and other Christian believers around the world including within the Soviet Union.
The date that you and we celebrate Christmas may be different. But the meaning and magnificence of what we celebrate -- the divine birth of one man, hero, strong yet tender, Prince of Peace -- is the same. This birth brought forth good tidings of great joy to all people. For unto us was born this day a Savior who is Christ the Lord.
We are told there are up to 100 million believers in the Soviet Union alone. Whether you are from Russia, Ukraine, Byelorussia, Armenia, Georgia, the Baltic states, or elsewhere inside the Soviet Union -- please know that we in America join you as one family under the Fatherhood of God, binding ourselves in a communion of hearts, for today and tomorrow and for all time. Know, too, our heartfelt desire that this day will kindle in all men that spirit which alone can bring us real peace on earth.
Peace is the condition of life for which all fervently pray. Of the many apparent paths to peace, we have seen one path that does lead to peace, the same path illuminated by Jesus Christ -- the path of truth and love and humility. Millions of Americans join you our brothers and sisters in a common struggle to overcome the barriers to peace -- falsehood, selfishness and pride, whose bitter fruit becomes a thirst for power and domination.
God's commandment that we love our neighbor as we love ourselves is a commandment to respect the God-given rights of our fellow man -- it is the commandment of freedom and of peace. Let us take heart knowing that our power to fulfill His commandment is not material but spiritual; and let us remember that no force on Earth can ever destroy the love of God that burns in our hearts. In the words of the prophet Isaiah: He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth their strength . . . they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings of eagles; they shall run and not be weary.
On this special night I would like to say a prayer of my own -- a prayer that God will touch and bless each of you in a most special way. And may we pray together, tonight and every night this year, that God's message of peace may touch the hearts of all His children -- especially those upon whom we depend to make and keep peace in the world.
God bless you.