On Saturday the 6th and Sunday the 7th of January, the brethren of Holy Cross Monastery in Wayne, WV celebrated the great feast of the Nativity of Christ. Leading the divine services was monastery abbot Archimandrite Seraphim (Voepel), co-served by the monastery clergy: Abbot Andrew (O’Leary), Hieromonks Nektarios (Merry), Gabriel (Hooten), and Paisios (Laiblin), Archdeacon Sergius (Wilson), and Hierodeacon Macarius (Ruegemer).
Upon completion of Liturgy on Sunday, Fr. Seraphim addressed the gathered brethren and pilgrims with a sermon, in which he said, in part:
"Living [in the faith that God can do anything and does indeed do everything], the Nativity of Christ becomes a cause of great spiritual rejoicing. God has become incarnate and walked among us because He loves us and desires the salvation of all mankind. He is not removed from His creation but has entered deeply into this world, taking on our flesh and experiencing our sorrows, leading us on the narrow path of salvation. This is the great joy of Christmas, that you are not alone but are living in the reality that not a hair can fall from your head without God’s permission. Nothing can happen to you without the permission of God. And His commitment to us is so great that he seeks to remove all stumbling blocks to His love, there is no sin so great that it can drive away His love. Our Savior makes this very clear when he speaks of Himself as being the Good Shepherd that leaves the ninety-nine sheep and seeks after the one that is lost.
"The Feast of the Nativity is a celebration that God does care about His creation. He has become incarnate, He took on our flesh and walked among us. The invisible God is ‘willing to be gazed upon.’ We see the beginning of this great revelation when the angel appeared to the frightened shepherds on the night of Christ’s birth and said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord’ (Luke 2:10-11).”
After the service, a festal meal was served in the monastery refectory, during which the brethren celebrated the Nativity of our Lord by singing traditional American Christmas carols, including the shape-note hymns "Bozrah" and "The Shepherds’ Star," and a 13th century Latin hymn (originally dedicated to St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, but rewritten in honor of the Prophet-King David).
The joy of the feast was especially augmented by the birth of several goat kids, one of which was given the name "Shapenote."