Daily Meditations

Fourth Day of Christmas Advent: Preparing for Christ’s Birth


As with Great Lent, so too with the Nativity Fast, the approaching feast is prepared for not only by abstinence, but also through the profound meaning of the biblical readings and the hymns (contained in the hymnbooks known as the Menaia for November and December) that we hear in church during this season.

Because the main focus of Advent is our preparation for the Nativity-the Incarnation of the Son of God-the hymns for the season are shot through with references and allusions to the Old Testament: the Church’s preparation over the centuries for the advent of the messianic Kingdom, which came in the person of Jesus Christ, the long-awaited Messiah.

It would therefore be no exaggeration to say that Advent is one great Bible study that sheds light on the meaning of the Old Testament as a preparation for the New. It is certainly no coincidence that so many Old Testament prophets are commemorated during this period.

Advent therefore signifies the Church’s journey throughout the ages—its preparation for the coming of Christ into the world. Every Advent we are called to participate in the Church’s journey from expectation to fulfillment, from preparation to joy.

Thus the Church’s services do not speak of Christmas as a mere historic event that occurred some two thousand years ago, but as something that is real and present here and now:

“Today the Virgin comes to the cave”

“Today the Virgin gives birth”

“Today heaven and earth have been made one”

It is this “today” of the Church—the “today” of God that traverses the centuries—which gives full meaning to Advent and to every Feast and season of the Orthodox Church.

~ Adapted from Vassilios Papavassiliou, Meditations for Advent: Preparing for Christ’s Birth