: Nativity Epistle of His Grace George Bishop of Sydney, Australia & New Zealand

Nativity Epistle
of His Grace
George Bishop of Sydney,
Australia & New Zealand

Nativity of Christ, 2023/2024

And the angel said unto them, Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord… And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2: 10-11, 13-14)

Beloved in the Lord, Clergy and Faithful of the Australian and New Zealand Diocese!

For over two thousand years, since apostolic times, mankind has heard these words of the Gospel, proclaiming peace on earth. And throughout these many years there has never been a time when peace reigned on earth. The history of mankind is filled rather with hatred, enmity and war. The present day wars in Ukraine and many other places around the world, which we are made acutely aware of by the mass media, are nothing new. So what and where is this peace that the angels proclaimed? Our Saviour said, “My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.” (John 14:27) He spoke to the apostles not about external peace but about inner peace, the peace that comes from communion with God, peace that comes from the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, when He comes and dwells in us. After the Mystical Supper our Saviour told His disciples: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer: I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

This is the peace that the angelic hosts proclaimed: Peace in Christ the Saviour. This is the peace that gave the Apostles the courage to spread the Gospel throughout the world, enduring many hardships. This is the peace that enabled the many holy martyrs to bravely face their torments. This is the peace that helped the many monastic ascetics of the Church live a life of hardship, anticipating the life to come. This is the peace of Christ that sustains and comforts all true Orthodox Christians as they daily bear their cross on the narrow path of salvation. The more that we labour in the Christian life, struggling to cleanse our souls of sinful passions: pride, self-love, envy, lack of faith; the more we strive to distance ourselves from the “world lying in evil”, the closer we will come to Christ, the only Source of divine peace. Let us all “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love, endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephes. 4: 1-3)

As you celebrate the incarnation of our Saviour into this world, His taking on flesh for our salvation and becoming man so that we can become divine, also invite Him into your hearts, so that “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philipp. 4:7)

I greet you all, brothers and sisters, with the Feast of the Nativity of Christ our Saviour!








+ George Bishop of Sydney
Australian & New Zealand Diocese
of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia