Thirty-Second Day of Christmas Advent: The Two Comings of Christ

In churches of catholic tradition in the Christian West, the Christmas “advent” season greatly emphasizes the second coming of the Lord. The faithful are called in their preparation for Christmas to look beyond the Savior’s coming in “the form of a slave … the likeness of men” (Phil 2: 7), to His commg again in glory at the end of the ages to judge the living and the dead in the Kingdom of God. In

Twenty-Sixth Day of Christmas Advent: The Tree of Life Blossoms

In the hymns for the prefeast of Christ’s Nativity, Jesus’ birth heralds a return to paradise. The Messiah is born and the gates of Eden are opened. The Savior comes and the tree of life blossoms. Paradise is not a place on the map. It is a condition of spirit. When a person knows God and lives in communion with Him, this is paradise. When a person does not know God and lives in communion

Fifteenth Day of Christmas Advent: The Feast of Saint Andrew (November 30)

While the canon of the feast of the Nativity begins to be sung on the festival of the entrance of the Virgin Mary into the temple, the first prefeast hymns of Christmas are sung on the feast of “the all-praised and first-called apostle Andrew.”1 In the gospel according to Saint John, Philip calls his friend Nathanael to “come and see” Jesus, but it is Jesus Himself who invites Andrew to “come and see” where He

Thirteenth Day of Christmas Advent: Daniel and the Three Young Men

During the prefeast season of Christmas the Church celebrates the memory of many of the Hebrew prophets. Especially commemorated are the prophet Daniel and his companions, Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael, the three Hebrew youths who refused to worship the idol of King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon and were thrown into a fiery furnace, only to find themselves singing and dancing in the flames together with a “fourth person” who is taken by the Church to be

Eleventh Day of Christmas Advent: The Faith of the Three Young Men

The story of the three young men in Babylon is especially loved in Orthodox liturgy. Not only is there the celebration of these Hebrew youths together with Daniel eight days before the feast of the Nativity, but their story is remembered and hymned on the two Sundays before Christmas which are dedicated to the memory of all the righteous of the Old Covenant who prepared the coming of Christ. In addition, the story of the

Sixth Day of Christmas Advent: Christ Is Born, Glorify Him! (Part II)

By Saint Gregory Nazianzen, the Theologian Clap your hands together, all people. For unto us a Son is born, unto us a Child is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulders. . . . Let John the Baptist cry aloud: Prepare ye the way of the Lord! And I too will cry aloud about the power of this Day. He who is without flesh has become incarnate. The Son of God becomes the

Fifth Day of Christmas Advent: Christ Is Born, Glorify Him! (Part I)

The feast of the Entrance of Mary into the temple marks the first specific liturgical announcement of the birth of Christ. On this festival, for the first time in the season the canon of the Nativity of Christ is sung at the festal vigil.1   Christ is born; glorify Him! Christ comes from heaven; go to meet Him! Christ is on earth; be exalted! Sing to the Lord, all the earth! And praise Him in

First Day of Christmas Advent: The Winter Pascha

The Christmas-Epiphany season in the Orthodox Church begins with a forty-day fasting period….When winter begins to make its way into the northern hemisphere, the Church of Christ begins to celebrate  the feast of Christ’s Nativity…called [Winter] Pascha. This emphasizes its close connection with the mystery of our salvation and deliverance from sin and death; the mystery which the holy Church proclaims in her dogmatic teachings and with which she brings us into direct spiritual contact


          We all find great joy in the coming of Christmas and, strangely, many exhibit even greater joy with the coming of the secular new year.  Increasingly more and more the meaning of Christmas is becoming similarly secularized which is one very good reason for us to abandon that name and speak of it as the Nativity of Jesus Christ.  We are also forgetful of the fact that the period of the Nativity is one

Christmas Advent: The Thirty-Sixth Day

CHRISTMAS DAY IS THE FEAST OF THE INCARNATION, the celebration of God with us. That which we have longed for has entered our human experience. In Christmas services, we hear the pronouncement of the angel: “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Families and churches often represent the Incarnation