It is no secret that God and religion are being marginalized in the United States, that is to say considered irrelevant in modern secular society. Many work hard to remove all reference to God in our culture and nation. Christmas, although a legal holiday by Act of Congress (signed 1870, June 28, by President Ulysses S. Grant) has had its religious significance systematically eradicated. For example, the secular "language police" have made sure a Christmas Tree is now a Holiday Bush and the proper greeting is no longer "Merry Christmas!" but "Happy Holidays!"
In the Orthodox Church, we go beyond saying "Merry Christmas!" We exchange the Christmas greeting "Christ is Born!" with the response, "Glorify Him!" We have a profound sense of the birth of the "Prince of Peace; Emmanuel," not the 'prince of darkness or power.'
Along with Isaiah the Prophet we proclaim: "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light ... For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." And his peace shall have no end, for God is with us!" (Is 9: 2,6-7).
Secularism claims to be indifferent to religion. It claims to be inclusive of all. Secular values are disguised by politically correct jargon. What is so nefarious about this establishment of secularism is that its values are diametrically the opposite of the principles Christ taught us to follow: love God and our neighbor as ourselves.
Our Orthodox Christian faith teaches us exactly the same thing: to give to God and our neighbor. The Godly Archbishop Tryphon tells us what our response to our blessings from God should be:
"O all-good and life-giving Trinity, receive our gratefulness for all Thy goods and show us worthy of Thine eternal treasures, so that we may multiply the talent entrusted to us, reach Thy kingdom and enter into the joy of our Lord, singing to Him the victorious song: Alleluia!" (Akathist of Thanksgiving)
Yes, the operative phrase is "that we may multiply the talent entrusted to us." Let's let go of "money talks" and walk the path of selfless "giving." This is the time to make room in our heart for God and our neighbor. This
is the time to give back from the talents that have been multiplied to those in need. What greater way to "give thanks and celebrate the Nativity of the Savior!" Christ is Born! Glorify Him!
The Very Rev. Fr. George Morelli, Ph.D. is a licensed Clinical Psychologist and Marriage and Family Therapist, Coordinator of the Chaplaincy and Pastoral Counseling Ministry of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese and Assistant Pastor of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in San Diego, California.
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