Christs is Born! Glorify Him!!!
The world that surrounds us would have us believe that the Feast we celebrate today is not about Christ, but about giving. If the world would have its way, they would forcefully instruct us that the Lord is a fairy tale, but the mall Santa is real.
As Orthodox Christians we know a different side of the Feast. And the giving of fruitcakes, video games, and high definition electronics isn't what it's about.
What are the gifts upon which we, as Orthodox Christians, focus?
We need to go to the Stichera on Lord I Call for Vespers for the Feast. Here is what the Holy Orthodox Church teaches about gifts and the Nativity of our Lord:
What shall we offer You, O Christ,
Who for our sakes has appeared on earth as a Man?
Every creature made by You offers You thanks.
The angels offer You a hymn;
The heavens a star;
The Magi, gifts;
The shepherds, their wonder;
The earth, its cave;
The wilderness, the manger;
And we off You a virgin Mother.
O pre-eternal God, have mercy on us!
So you see, gifts on this day DO have meaning. But our greatest gift to be offered on this day is defined in the third line of the above hymn - thanksgiving! But more than this, the Holy Church's teaching shows us that there is but one single portion of all creation that does not offer praise to God for the miracle of the Incarnation.
What is that one single portion? It is the remnant of mankind which, by deceit of the enemy, opposes God at all times. For even as the Savior comes into the world as an Infant, there are those who already seek His destruction. It was true in the time of His birth. It has been true throughout all of history since. And, it remains as true even today.
We all know the Nativity account. A child is imminent, and the family responsible for Him comes to Bethlethem where they find no one who will accomodate a young woman who is delivering a Child. If there was an inn (and Scripture tells us there was), you can believe that there were people in that place who had a room and were quite comfortable thank you very much, but could not and/or would not be bothered to give up their comfort for the sake of a woman and her Child.
The world didn't exactly welcome God into it, did it? Did WE? And to this day we treat Him still with perhaps not contempt, but at least indifference. All those days He knocks at the doors of our hearts and asks to come in, but we "are full" - we have no room for Him to enter, no capacity to allow Him to change us from the earth-bound creatures we have become, no vision of our need to be heaven-bound as possessors of the promise He came into this world to assure to us.
Ergo, on this great Feast of the Incarnation of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ, let us come to Him as did the shepherds - filled with the wonder inspired by the hymn of the angels. Let us come as did the Magi, offering to Him that which we have. Gold was the gift of a King. We may have no gold, but we have that which is precious to the King, the desire to be obedient to His commands. Frankincense was the gift of the High Priest. We may have no frankincense, by we have that which is precious to the High Priest, prayers offering up our thanksgiving. Myrrh was the gift of One Who is to be buried. We may have no myrrh, but we have that which is precious to the One Who comes into the world to suffer and die for our sakes - the heartfelt desire to repent of our sins.
And so, we may come to God on this day, and on every day, bearing gifts that are precious in His sight. Let us therefore run to the cave, as did those shepherds, so that we might fall down and worship God, Who came into the world in His love for us. Those shepherds loved their sheep, but they abandoned them to go and find what the angels proclaimed to them, God With Us!
For this is that Love, the Love of God, and it is the greatest of all gifts!
Christ is Born! Glorify Him!!!!
Welcome to Saint Herman's, Hudson, Ohio
This blog is a partial compilation of the messages, texts, readings, and prayers from our small mission community. We pray that it will be used by our own people, to their edification. And if you happen by and are inclined to read, give the glory to God!
The blog title, "Will He Find Faith on the Earth?" is from Luke 18:8, the "Parable of the Persistent Widow." It overlays the icon of the Last Judgment, an historical event detailed in Matthew Chapter 25, for which we wait as we pray in the Nicean Creed.
We serve the Holy Orthodox cycle of services in contemporary English. Under the omophorion of His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph of the Bulgarian Patriarchal Diocese of the USA, Canada and Australia, we worship at 5107 Darrow Road in Hudson, Ohio (44236). If you are in the area, please join us for worship!
Regular services include:
Sunday Divine Liturgy 10AM (Sept 1 - May 31)
930AM (June 1 - Aug 31)
Vespers each Saturday 6PM
We pray that you might join us for as many of these services as possible!