In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town. And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David,to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
– Luke 2:1-7
Christ is Born! Glorify Him!
We wish a special Christmas Greeting to you: the people, religious, and clergy of the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh! We hope that your celebration of the birth of Jesus brings joy to you and your family. We rejoice and proclaim to all that Christ is Born!
The Holy Family celebrated the first Christmas far from their home in Nazareth in the town of Bethlehem. Mary and Joseph had to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem to fulfill the requirements of the census. Jesus came into the world at a location where they had no family and they relied on the charity of strangers to invite them into a place to stay and to give birth to the Son of God.
Many people have the special gift of being able to be born and live in one place for their entire lifetime. For them the holidays are filled with memories from their family home and their surrounding community. Every house and street corner bring up memories of Christmas past and present. Traditions are continued and enriched with celebration of each season.
Other families are like Mary and Joseph. God’s plan includes celebrating Christmas or living in a place where they are strangers. There is the excitement and challenge of starting over in a new city to rekindle old family traditions in new place. This happened for all of our families as they came to the United States. Each of our parishes has a few new families from other countries and states. Each of us are called to welcome new and returning families to our parish Christmas celebrations and to help them to adjust to their new lives.
At the 2014 Extraordinary Synod of Bishops, our churches were described as the family of the families. The Church helps, teaches and nurtures the life of each family in the same way that parents provide for their children. The Christmas Eve and Christmas Day celebrations invite us to relive the first Christmas. As we sing the hymns and carols of Christmas, the old teach the young the story which has been passed from generation to generation. We offer special prayers for families in Ukraine, the Middle East, and here who have suffered and been forced to start over.
Whether you are near your place of birth or far from home, we pray that your holidays be filled with rich blessings. We thank you for your support during the past year. We lift up the prayer that God will bless you and your families during this Christmas season and during the year of 2015.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend William C. Skurla, D.D.
Metropolitan Archbishop of Pittsburgh