The Fifth Day of Christmas: Light Shines in the Darkness (Feast Day of the Holy Innocents)

Your Nativity, O Christ our God, made the light of knowledge dawn on the world. For through it those who worshipped the stars were taught by a star to worship You, the Sun of righteousness, and to know You, the Dawn from on high. O Lord, glory to You! (Apolytikion of the Nativity) THE SEASON OF CHRISTMAS is a feast of light and joy, since we celebrate the coming of “the true Light which gives

The Nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ: The New Adam

The Creator has come, raising up mankind from the earth, making His royal image new again! (Matins of the Feast, December 20, third hymn of the Praises) AT THE HEART OF THE FEAST of the Nativity is the proclamation that Christ has come to restore Adam to Paradise: Christ comes voluntarily to serve; the Creator now receives the image of impoverished Adam, enriching him with divinity, and granting him a strange restoration and regeneration, for

The Thirty-Ninth Day of Christmas Advent: For so has God Loved the World (Part II)

But the road from Bethlehem to Zion is long, and is leading us through Gethsemane and Golgotha. Already in Bethlehem the newborn Godchild is presented with funeral offerings by the Wise Men from the East. “Today God leads the Wise Men to worship through the star, prefiguring His three-day burial in gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” The very doors of the Bethlehem cavern are nearly stained with the innocent blood of the children who were killed

The Thirty-Eighth Day of Christmas Advent: For so has God Loved the World (Part I)

That we begin our reckoning of time with Christ’s birth is a fact which has long been but a mere convention for many. Seldom does one recall and recognize the great event from which we count time. So do we betray our ignorance and insensitivity. In ancient days, time was computed from the Incarnation of God the Word. It signifies that we live in a world which has been renewed and redeemed already, that even

Thirty-Fifth Day of Christmas Advent: THE FOREFEAST OF THE NATIVITY

Become Like Children “Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” (Mark 10:15) EVERY YEAR AS CHRISTMAS APPROACHES, we hear a great deal of speculation about the meaning of Christmas in a society that is persistently trying to shake off it Christian identity. During such a debate about the meaning of Christmas, one comment in particular struck me: “Christmas is a feast for children.” Although

Twelfth Day of Christmas Advent: Prepare the Way of the Lord!

Our hymns are “the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord’” (Is. 40:3). Just as St. John the Baptist prepared the way for Christ by calling the people of Israel to repentance (Matt. 3:1-2) so too does the Church prepare us for the Nativity by exhorting us to “bear fruits worthy of repentance” (Matt. 3:8). Repentance begins with humility, contrition, tears, and confession, but it does not end there.

Eleventh Day of Christmas Advent: Let Us Prepare!

The Church’s command to Bethlehem to prepare and be glad extends also to us. We are invited to go back in time to Judea. This is of course a poetic way of encouraging us to rejoice and marvel-as fervently, as intimately, and as tangibly as hun1anly possible-in the wonder of the Incarnation and of our salvation: Let us celebrate the forefeast of the Nativity of Christ, O people, and raising our minds, let us go

Tenth Day of Christmas Advent: Bethlehem Prepare!

The Church’s exhortation to get ready for Christmas is conveyed in poetic language. Our hymns command Bethlehem to prepare and make ready for the Nativity of our Lord: Behold, the time of our salvation has drawn near: O Cave, make ready! The Virgin is drawing near to give birth. O Bethlehem, land of Judah, be glad and rejoice, for from you our Lord has dawned. Listen, mountains and hills, and lands around Judea, for Christ

Sixth Day of Christmas Advent: THE ENTRY OF THE MOTHER OF GOD INTO THE TEMPLE (Part I)

The Temple of God The most pure Temple of the Savior, the precious Bridal Chamber and Virgin, the sacred Treasure of the glory of God, is brought today into the house of the Lord. She brings with her the grace of the divine Spirit. God’s angels sing her praise: She is the heavenly tabernacle. (Kontakion of the Feast of the Entry of the Mother of God) THERE IS A STRANGE SILENCE about the Nativity in

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

ORTHODOX WORSHIP 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