More from Orthodox Nativity...
On the Eve of Nativity, admidst the candle-lit and incense smoke ridden Nave of the Church we were blessed to hear the OT readings of the prophets who proclaimed the coming Incarnation. And I do not mean just the standard prophecy such as: "behold a virgin shall...", rather nearly a dozen different passages were read - some of which I never knew to be messianic. It was a lovely time, even in the midst of my antsy kids. But it struck me as we all sat on the floor of the pewless Church listening to these ancient words, just how connected I felt to the past - as I Iooked around, really only the clothing we wore and perhaps some architectural aspects of the building betrayed the age in which we actually lived, otherwise it might as well have been the 3rd century. There is something in this unchangingness that I find wonderfully attractive - stable and reliable. I needn't worry much about how the service will be done and what might be said during its conducting...perhaps it is the former conservative Episcopalian in me reacting to what I've experienced in the past - I dunno.
The next morning, before the kids dove into their presents we went back to Church to receive the gift of Christ's Incarnation through the Eucharist. (By the way, Clifton's Dec 29th post is well worth reading). I think it is REALLY good for the kids - and ME - to put aside the presents and thereby recognize where the real value of Christmas lies.
Some words from the Liturgy that morning that still haunt me in a very good way...
How can a womb contain Him whom nothing can contain?
How can He remain in His Father's bosom, yet rest in His mother's arms?
It is His good pleasure to accomplish this!
Having no flesh, He purposely assumes it for our sake.
He who is become what He never was.
He shares our substance without forsaking His own nature.
Desiring to make us citizens of the world in high,
Christ, the only-begotten of the Father, is born on earth as a man.
The Creator shaped man with His own hands,
but when He saw us perishing eternally,
He bowed the heavens and came down to earth,
and clothed Himself completely in our nature,
truly incarnate from a pure and holy virgin,
for He has been glorified!
Heaven brought the first-fruits of the Gentiles as a gift for You;
A star summoned the wise men to the babe in the manger.
They were amazed to see neither throne nor scepter.
But only abject poverty.
What is more humble than a cave?
What is more lowly than swaddling clothes?
Yet the riches of Your divinity shone through all these.
O Lord, glory to You!
You have borne the Savior, O Virgin Theotokos.
You have overthrown Eve's ancient curse.
You became the mother of the Son of God.
The Father is well-pleased in Him.
You carry at your bosom God, the Word, made flesh.
We cannot fathom this mystery.
We can only believe, and give glory to you:
O Lord, beyond all explanation, glory to you!
...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 8:28 AM [+]