I would like to start today’s sermon with a carol that we often sing at Christmas: “It is a sad Christmas Eve, in the forty sixth year, throughout our Ukraine, a cry at every step.” It is known that this carol was widespread in Western Ukraine during challenging time. First, in the carol, they sang “It is a sad Christmas Eve in 45th year”, the second year they sang “It is a sad Christmas Eve in 46th year”, later they sang about “It is a sad Christmas Eve in 47th year” and so on. The carol was performed differently in each place, but its essence did not change. Today this carol is as relevant as ever. We sing: “It is a sad Christmas Eve in 2023rd year” because Ukraine is at war. I advise everyone this Christmas not only to sing this carol in their homes, but also to understand its meaning and also to look forward to the joy that will follow.

Today we celebrate the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which is a feast of joy in the midst of sadness, because God came to earth – He was born just like each of us. What do we do when there is a birthday in our family? We gather around the person whose birthday it is today and as a family. We do two things: we remember and we celebrate. We remember the time and date of a person’s birth. We look back and remember the day the person came into this world. We have the opportunity to look at photos and remember how this person looked in childhood. We tell stories about the person when she was very young; we remember her first words, first days at school and other significant events from early childhood. But beyond memories, we celebrate this person’s birthday together.

We do something similar at Christmas: we remember and celebrate. We remember and tell the story of how and when Jesus was born. We tell the story of how Mary and Joseph were driven out of the inn, we remember how the angels appeared with the good news, and we remember how the shepherds and kings visited the manger. At Christmas, we celebrate not only what Jesus has done for the whole world, but also what Jesus has done for us personally.

We must be careful not to look at Christmas as if it were just a historical event that happened in the past. The birth of Jesus is an event that reverberates through the ages to this day. Through the birth of Christ, God enters our time and history, and most importantly, into our personal lives. Christ is Emmanuel, which translates as “God with us”, and today He wants to have a personal relationship with each of us.

Let’s try to stop for a moment this Christmas and think about two questions: What do I remember? What am I celebrating? Christ is still born today in our hearts and homes, if we allow Him to enter and dwell in us and among us. May Baby Jesus bless our native Ukraine, giving it peace, harmony and victory over the occupier, and fill us all with incredible joy and gratitude, because Christ is born! Glorify Him!