The Nativity of our Lord
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 12:58 AM [+]
from Vespers tonight...
What shall we offer you, O Christ?
For our sake, you appeared on Earth as man.
Every creature made by you offers you thanks:
The Angels offer a hymn;
The Heavens, a Star;
The Wise Men, Gifts;
The Shepherds, their wonder;
The Earth, its cave;
The Wilderness, a manger,
and we offer you a virgin Mother.
O Pre-eternal God, have mercy on us.
Today the Virgin gives birth to the Maker of All!
Eden offers a cave.
To those in darkness, a star reveals Christ, the Sun!
Wise Men are enlightened by faith, and worship with gifts.
Shepherds behold the wonder, and the Angels sing:
"Glory to God in the Highest!"
Sing O Jerusalem!
Make Merry, All who love Zion!
Today, Adam's ancient Bonds are broken;
Paradise is opened to us;
the serpent is cast down.
Long ago, our first Mother was deceived by him.
Now he sees a woman become the mother of the creator.
O, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
Through Eve, woman became the tool of sin,
bringing death to all flesh,
But through Mary, she becomes the first fruits of salvation for all the world,
for God, the all-perfect, is born of her.
By His birth, He seals her virginity.
He is bound in swaddling clothes to loose the bonds of sin!
Through His birth, the pains of Eve are healed.
Let all creation sing and dance for joy,
For Christ has come to restore and save our souls.
As has become my custom is recent years, I am sitting here alone after everyone has gone to bed and find myself contemplating life - and more specifically the Incarnation, my own unworthiness, and how I am only now beginning to "get it." The full weight of Christmas began to be laid upon me tonight - despite being at the rather lengthy Vesperal-Divine Liturgy with my four rambuncious kids. The Incarnation is not simply a means of getting a sinless body to the cross...(which I must admit is what I believed) NO NO NO...it is salvific in and of itself! Furthermore, our salvation is NOT obtained via the sacrificial satisfaction of an angry, albeit righteously so, God - but alas that is another post.
The Incarnation is an amazing thing and not just in the sense that God is teaching us a lesson in humility - more than that, it is the most profound mystery of all of God's mysteries. It is the beginning of our restoration. And as I did last year I find myself staring at our Nativity Icon and trying to grasp hold of the wonder of beholding Mary feeding a newborn infant - all the while knowing that this helpless babbling baby was in fact almighty God - maker of heaven and earth - suckling her breast! My goodness can we imagine this?
I ask for the Theotokos to pray unto her son and our God that He might stretch forth His hand and touch our hearts with just a minute taste of the wonder she must have felt that night in the cave...I don't think I could handle much more than that. I just want to contemplate this mystery and let it break me.
On my knees with my forehead smack against the hardwood...it's all I can think to do in just beginning to really "get" what Christmas is all about. O wonder!
It is now well after Midnight and I need to get to bed. When I awake and after literally ingesting Christmas into myself through the Euchairst, the fast will have ended...and then: Let the Feast begin!
CHRIST IS BORN!