(To be read from the pulpit and printed in the bulletin)
Beloved Brother Hierarchs, Reverend Clergy, and Christ-loving Faithful of Our God-protected Archdiocese:
Blessings and greetings to all of you in the Name of Our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ!
One of the hallmarks of our Orthodox Christian faith is the beauty of our worship. Our ecclesiastical music, when done with prayer and skill, can elucidate the rich theology of our hymnography in such a way that worshippers can exclaim – as did the emissaries sent by Saint Vladimir – "we know not whether we are in heaven or on earth!"
Because we owe such a tremendous amount of gratitude to our choirs and our chanters, we set aside the second Sunday of December to honor them for the key role they play in our liturgical life.
I offer thanks especially for the work of the Department of Sacred Music in working so diligently to expand the repertoire of music and to make it accessible to all. In addition, the department offers the Sacred Music Institute to help our choir members and chanters learn more about this sacred art and fine tune their God-given talents.
To support this work, which is so vital our Orthodox Christian liturgical lives, I ask each parish of this Archdiocese to offer a second collection on December 10, 2017 and to offer special recognition to those who are fulfilling this sacred ministry.
Wishing you all a holy and grace-filled continuation of the fast and joyous feast of the Nativity, I remain,
Your Father in Christ, +JOSEPH Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of all North America December 10, 2017
Englewood, NJ/The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
Statement by His Eminence, Archbishop Metropolitan JOSEPH, of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church of North America on the Recent Announcement by President Trump recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel
“Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”. Luke 2:14
We in the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church stand with religious and world leaders in expressing concern over the recent announcement by President Trump in which the United States officially recognizes the city of Jersusalem as the capital of Israel and will therefore be moving the United States Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Our main concern is that this is a unilateral decision being made from outside of the framework of the Middle East peace process and that this will serve to undermine an already complex and difficult situation.
The holy city of Jerusalem is the center of the three major monotheistic religions and is inhabited by their peoples. As Orthodox Christians we revere the sacred sites where our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ was crucified and buried and where he rose from the dead inside the walls of the old city. At the same time, the issue of Jerusalem has been the focus of intense political debate since 1948 when the modern State of Israel was established. Since that time and especially since the Six-Day War of 1967, both sides of the conflict have claimed this city as their respective political capital. International law and most countries of the world, including the United States, recognized this situation and agreed that the final status of Jerusalem would be part of a lasting peace agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis. President Trump’s announcement would appear to undermine the perception of the United States as a neutral party on the global stage, and could impact U.S.-led efforts at achieving a lasting solution to the conflict.
Most alarming is the violence and unrest that this announcement has sparked. We ask those who live in the region to utilize peaceful methods in resolving this conflict and not to resort to violence. We implore world leaders and all those concerned about the announcement to renew a commitment to dialogue and to the Palestinian/Israeli peace process. To do nothing will only lead to more violence and killing, and more generations of Palestinians and Israelis who will likely choose hatred and armed conflict rather than the road to peace.
As we prepare to celebrate our Lord’s Nativity in the flesh, in the town of Bethlehem, just outside the holy city of Jerusalem, let us pray even more that God’s peace, the peace from above, will penetrate the hearts of all.