God is with us!
Understand, all ye nations,
and submit yourselves,
for God is with us!
1

"[A parishioner's] difficulty was with the fact that the verse said, 'God is with us!' and that it called all people to understand and submit themselves. How unbelievably presumptuous, she declared, that the Orthodox would solemnly proclaim that God was with them and then be even more arrogant in demanding that others understand and submit! Although the woman was gravely mistaken in her understanding of the song, her attitude betrayed a common approach to religion in North America, where no church is supposed to think itself truer than the others, and where submission in any form is considered to be degrading and demeaning.

The point of Isaiah's canticle is not that God is with one particular group of people and not another . . . . When the Christ appears on earth, God is truly with us, all of us; not only with the Jews but with the gentiles, not only with the Orthodox Christians and Christians generally but with all people, including those who do not ask for Him and do not seek Him. All peoples and nations are called to understand this and submit to it, not for God's sake but for their own. It is their honor, not their humiliation. It is their dignity, not their degradation. It is their freedom, not their enslavement. It is their very life."2


1From the canticle of Isaiah, sung at Great Compline whenever it's appointed; however, most people not in a monastery only hear Compline at Christmas.
2Hopko, Thomas. The Winter Pascha: Readings for the Christmas-Epiphany Season. (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1984), 114-115.