主降生事蹟 (Nativity Sermon of St Innocent)

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主降生事蹟 (Nativity Sermon of St Innocent)

Postby 尼古拉前执事 » Sat 28 April 2007 6:08 am

Translator’s note: The original text in Chinese (and title in Russian) has been translated into English here. The year when sermon was given remained unknown, but judging from the written format and signature I would date it between 1921 and 1956. References to the Gospel texts were mine.

The account of the Incarnation of our Lord

NATIVITY SERMON by the Cathedral Protopresbyter MICHAEL MIN
of St Innokentiy – Holy Cross Church.

Our Lord Jesus, Son of God, was to be born into the world to save the world, so he chose a virtuous and kind-hearted Virgin Mary, as His mother. Because Mary’s parents sincerely believed in God, they presented her to the Temple. From the age of three, she entered the Temple and was raised there; by the age of fourteen, she had become a holy woman full of virtue, and she vowed before God to remain a virgin and not marry. The priest saw that she was alone and helpless, so he picked Joseph as her husband, a just and righteous man who was eighty years of age, so that her chastity would be safeguarded. So, the holy Virgin Mary moved from the Temple to live in the home of Joseph of Nazareth.

有一天,天神報信說:“你將要懷孕上帝子,我眾的救主合利斯托斯。”此時伊鄂錫福不知道是上帝的奧祕,看見他懷孕,就生疑惑要和他罷婚出走。可是在夜間得到主的天神給他托夢說:“達微德的子孫伊鄂錫福,你不要疑惑他的胎,這是由聖神所孕,將來產生是上帝子,可以定名叫伊伊穌斯。” 故此他就遵順上帝旨意。
One day, an angel brought a message: “You will conceive and bear a Child, who is the Son of God, our Savior Christ.” At that time, Joseph did not know it was a Mystery of God, and seeing that she was with child, he became suspicious and was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be perplexed by her Conception, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth the Son of God, and you shall call His name Jesus.” (Matthew 1:19-21) Because of this, Joseph obeyed God’s will.

It was the 5508th year from Creation when Mary was about to give birth to the Child. And it came to pass in those days that for the first time a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. So, the holy Virgin Mary and Joseph went up to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem to be registered. (Luke 2:1-5) The time was coming close for the Theotokos to give birth; she nevertheless did not go against the Emperor’s orders. She undertook the difficult journey, braving hardships and arriving safely by sundown at the town after traveling for three days. The inns were full of travellers on their way to register. The innkeeper declined to offer them a room, seeing that they were poor. Subsequently, they found a cave near the town, used by shepherds on nightwatch.
Joseph took Mary and bedded down there for the night. That night, the Baby Jesus was born there. The Theotokos wrapped the Child in her swaddling cloth and placed Him in the manger.

在此山附近,看守羊群的牧童,夜半忽見天空發奇光,光裏現有天神,很是驚慌。天神說:“別害怕,我來報告你們大喜的消息,救世主今夜已在這城降世。你們朝拜的時候,看一嬰孩在馬槽裏用衣襟包裹就是。” 繼續有無數天神歡聲振耳的唱著歌說:“榮光上帝在上,降平安在地上,施恩寵在人間。”
Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy. For there is born to you this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:8-14).

After the singing, as the shepherds looked again, the angels had disappeared. The night was silent and there was no one around. They felt the fearsome awe of the angelic apparition, but were joyful and thankful at the glad tidings of the Lord’s birth. Together, they came with haste to the hillside into the cave, and saw a bright light shining, and found the Child wrapped in swaddling cloth lying in the manger, and they respectfully prostrated and bowed down. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. (Luke 2:15)

At that time, there were Wise Men from East of Judaea who were knowledgeable in astronomy and ancient writings. When they saw a bright star in the East, they interpreted it from their great learning to be a sign of the birth of the Lord. They rode on camels, bringing along gifts to Judaea, inquiring, “Where is he who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” This news spread across the kingdom and word got around quickly. When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. Then he invited the wise men to his palace and told them to go and search for the young Child, and to bring back word to him when they had found Him, so that he too might come and worship Him. When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the cave, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshipped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold and frankincense and myrrh. When the wise men completed their homage, they stayed at the city’s inn for the night. It was while they were there, that they were divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod. And so they departed for their own country by another way. (Matthew 2:2-12)

The Incarnation of our Lord, the Son of God, is to save us from our sins. This is indeed a Miracle over which the whole word should rejoice. Come let us bow down and worship, so that we may be granted His grace and salvation! Amen!

Respectfully written by Protopresbyter Luo, Russian Orthodox Metropolitanate, Beijing.

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Postby 尼古拉前执事 » Sat 28 April 2007 6:09 am

Additional Notes:
I found a section of a newly-published Chinese book on Eastern Orthodoxy that may relate to the persons and churches mentioned in the “Christmas Sermon” document:

“1917年俄國十月革命后,有一批白俄流亡分子逃到天津,這些人都信仰東正教。隨著俄國流亡教徒人數的驟增,1929年在天津又建造了“聖母帡幪”教堂。之後,又陸續建成了“聖英諾肯提乙”教堂,“聖尼古拉”教堂,“聖謝拉菲姆”教堂,“聖眾”教堂等。天津東正教會從1920-1939年共建教堂8座。先後主持教堂工作的有巴維爾大司祭,維克托爾修士大司祭,戛烏利伊勒修士司祭,米哈依爾。羅國仁大司祭,西奈斯基大司祭,奧西波夫大司祭,中國人常福大司祭,芮憲章司祭,杜潤臣司祭,杜立崑司祭等。 。。。

。。。1956年后,天津的俄國僑民紛紛離華,部分僑民回到蘇聯,多數僑民去往資本主義國家,教徒人數大量減少。此後,天津的几個教堂進行了合并,并受中華東正教會領導。1966 年“文化大革命”開始,宗教活動完全停止,教會也不復存在。”

“After the October 1917 Revolution in Russia, a number of White Russian refugees fled to Tianjin; these refugees are all Eastern Orthodox believers. With the sudden increase in the number of Russian refugee church members, the Protection of the Theotokos church was built in Tianjin in 1929. After that, additional churches were built: St Innokentiy church, St Nikolai church, St Seraphim church, All Saints church etc. The Tianjin Diocese built a total of 8 churches between 1920 and 1939. Clergy looking after these churches are, in chronological order, Protopriest Pavle, Archimandrite Viktor, Hieromonk Javolie, Protopriest Michael Luo Guo-Ren, Protopriest Sinaiski, Protopriest Osipov, Chinese: Protopriest Chang Fu, Priest Rui Xian-Zhang, Priest Du Run-Chen, Priest Du Li-Kun etc . . . .

. . .After 1956, many Russian nationals in Tianjin left China one after another, of which some of them returned to Soviet Union, but most of these Russians left for Capitalist countries. As a result, the church membership greatly declined. After this, a few churches in Tianjin were merged, and came under the spiritual direction of the Chinese Orthodox Church (Zhonghua Dongzhengjiaohui). In 1966, the Cultural Revolution began and religious activities were stopped and the Church was closed till today.”

We know from the modern Chinese writing style that the Christmas sermon in Chinese language cannot possibly be dated earlier than May 4, 1921, assuming it is a copy of the original text. From the book except above, we read of a Protopriest Michael Luo, a non-Chinese, as well as a Protopriest Michael Ming (Chinese), whom I read from other sources that he might be a Chinese priest from the diocese of Tianjin since the 1910s.

If we assume that the sermon was delivered in the Tianjin diocese as above, then we can match the earliest date to some time after 1929. And the latest date of 1956 might possibly be dated as late as 1966. In short, the dating period for the Chinese text might have been anytime in 1929-1966.

In the Christmas sermon text we also know that the sermon was delivered in a St Innokentiy – Holy Cross church, which could possibly have dual patron saints or dual altars within the same church. In the above book except, we know that due to the rapid decline in church memberships, some of the churches were combined, which could resulted in the merger bearing both the names of the original churches. If that is the case, the dating of this sermon will be in the favor of the last decade 1956-1966.

ISBN: 7-5004-2438-8
Dongzhengjiao-shi, Le Feng, China Social Sciences Publisher, 1999.

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Re: 主降生事蹟 (Nativity Sermon of St Innocent)

Postby mitrophan » Sat 28 January 2012 10:36 pm

I would like to share with you of an alternative explanation to the identity of the author and church of the sermon.

Fr Michael Luo was also known by the Russians as Fr Mikhail Min, as they took the first character Ming of his Chinese given name as his surname in Russian.

After the formation of the East Asian Exarchate in July 1950, Abp Viktor appointed Fr Michael as Cathedral Archpriest in Beiguan.

St Innokenty of Irkukst Cross Church was located in the archbishopric residence of the Russian Spiritual Mission in Beiguan, Beijing. The Cross church (Cross church is a term that means a church in the bishop's living quarters) was located in the left side of the building, while private archbishopric apartments were located on the right side. The building was converted into an assembly hall known as the "Red Fangzi" when transferred over to the Soviet Embassy in 1956.

As for the dating of the Nativity sermon, if the author was Mitred Archipriest Michael Luo Mingzhi (罗明志), then it would not have been published earlier than July 1950, when he was appointed as Cathedral Archpriest of Beiguan, Beijing.


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