True God from True God
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 1:08 PM [+]
I've been reading through portions of the Festal Menaion. I highly recommend it because it is worth more than just knowing what the sing/chant/pray for any of the 9 great fixed feasts, it is also a great resource PERIOD. In the back is dictionary of liturgical terms (VERY HANDY!) and the front has a wonderful essay on worship by Fr. Florovsky and then an insightful section explaining much of the meaning found in the liturgics of the various feasts.
Here is an excerpt from the section on the Nativity of our Lord:
The familiar and homely elements of the Nativity story - the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger, the ox and the ass beside Him, the shepherds watching with their flocks by night - are by no means forgotten in the Orthodox hymns for this day. But the main centre of interest lies elsewhere: not in these picturesque details, touching though they may be, not simply in the humanity of the child Jesus, but rather in the paradoxical union of that humanity with the divinity. 'A young child, the pre-eternal God' (kontakion of the feast): this is the supreme and crucial meaning of Christmas. Without ceasing to be what He is from all eternity - true God - One of the Trinity yet became truly and entirely man, born as a baby from a human mother.
It is to this theme, under ceaselessly varying forms, that the liturgical texts of the day continually revert - the contrast between the divine and the human in the one Person of the Incarnate Christ. He who formed the world now Himself 'takes form' as a creature; the Creator makes Himself to be created; 'He who holds the whole creation in the hollow of His hand today is born of the Virgin' (Christmas Eve 9th Hour); 'older than ancient Adam', He lies in His mother's arms; the Lord of Glory, who 'looses the tangled cords of sin', is wrapped is swaddling bands; He who is the divine reason (Logos) rests in a manger of beasts without reason (aloga); He is fed with milk who gives food to all the universe. Passages such as these are more than a rhetorical tour de force: the are intended to make the members of the Church realize, in some small measure, how strange and amazing a thing it is that God should become very man. As the worshiper stands in spirit beside the crib, it is not enough for him to see, lying in the straw, 'gentle Jesus meek and mild'; he must see more than this - the Son of God, begotten of His Father before all ages, Light from Light, true God from true God.
The FM is a real nice book. Done by a real smart fellow of course. I can imagine what it must have been like in the days when there were no such books to help figure out the strange variants of services. A thousand years of monastics with alot of time on their hands to make up liturgical rules gets you very complicated stuff. Have you started formally on the Late Vocation stuff??