Dear and faithful Orthodox Christians,
Christ is born! Glorify Him!
Together, let us all rejoice with great rejoicing as we celebrate the Birth of Our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ! Let us read together now the announcement of the Angel to the shepherds as recorded in the second chapter of the divine Gospel of Saint Luke:
“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
And we also say with them, ‘Glory to God in the highest!’ for Our Saviour was incarnate, and lived among us, through His sacrifice making possible the forgiveness of our sins, the reconciliation of God with men, and He showed us the most excellent way, that we also walk in peace and virtue to the great day of Salvation.
Our father among the Saints, John Chrysostom expounded to us in a sermon that he gave on December 20, 386 AD, that we pull down the wall that may still keep us from Our Saviour saying, “Farewell to the law courts! Farewell to the council chambers, and to daily business with its contracts and transactions! I want to save my soul!”. He gives us a word which I think is very helpful for our current situation. This year we are not able to all celebrate in the Vigil and Liturgy as we have in the past, we will not all be together to celebrate the feast with Nativity treats and singing of Carols. Yet we all remain united in Christ. Our community united in Christ through prayer, participation in the Services at home, through love and joined through Divine Communion.
As we celebrate in our homes, listen to these beautiful words again of Saint John Chrysostom, “The Magi came from Persia, you must come away from daily business and travel towards Jesus. The distance isn’t great, if we’re willing.” The point is, you don’t have to cross the sea, or traverse the mountain peaks, but if you sit at home exhibiting piety and much compunction… you can cut the distance of the journey. For “I am a God close at hand, and not a God far off,” (Jer 23:23) and “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him in truth” (Ps 145:18).
In the few days until Nativity, I would encourage everyone to read at home from the Gospels, Luke chapter 2, and Matthew Chapter 3. If you are with your family and children, gather them and read it together. And also each day to read or learn to chant these two sacred Kontakia hymns of the Forefeast and the Nativity written by Saint Romanus the Melodist. You can hear them chanted by the choir of Saint Nicholas through links below, and you can follow the words noted below, as well.
Our beloved Metropolitan Andrew sends his fatherly blessing to all of us, together with his encouragement that we pray for one another, and rejoice in the great mercy and love of God Our Saviour.
Christ is born! Glorify Him!
Kontakion for the Forefeast of Nativity of our Saviour
Third Tone. On this day the Virgin.
On this day the virgin cometh to the cave to give birth to * God the Word ineffably, * Who was before all the ages. * Dance for joy, O earth, on hearing * the gladsome tidings; * with the Angels and the shepherds now glorify Him * Who is willing to be gazed on * as a young Child Who * before the ages is God.
Kontakion of the Feast of the Nativity of our Saviour
Third Tone. The Original Melody.
On this day the Virgin beareth the Transcendent in essence; * to the Unapproachable, * the earth doth offer a small cave; * Angels join in choir with shepherds * in giving glory; * with a star the Magi travel upon their journey; * for our sakes is born a young Child, * He that existed * before the ages as God.
Text copyright Holy Transfiguration Monastery; used with permission.