"Preparing for Our Lord's Nativity"
By Phyllis Meshel Onest, M.Div.
For the first four centuries of Christian history the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord was not a separate Church feast. It was celebrated with Epiphany in one great feast of God's appearance on earth in the form of the human Messiah of Israel. The celebration of the Nativity began to be celebrated on December 25 to offset the pagan festival of the "Invincible Sun" that occurred on that specific day. The Church consciously established it in an attempt to defeat the false religion of the heathens.
The Troparion of the Feast calls us to adore Christ, “the True Sun of Righteousness” (Malachi 4:2), who is Himself worshipped by all elements of nature, rather than worshipping the sun and stars. The three Wise Men or Magi (i.e. Sages) were astronomers, people who studied the stars. Even the Pagan World had a prophecy of the birth of a great king. Saints Gaspar, Melchoir and Balthazar followed the unusual star and became the first non-Jewish people to believe in Christ.
Your nativity, O Christ our God, has caused the light of knowledge to rise upon the world. For therein the worshippers of the stars were by a star instructed to worship You, the very Sun of Righteousness, and to know You as Orient from on high. Glory to You, O Lord.
KONTAKION – 3RD Tone
by St Romanos the Melodist
On this day, the Virgin gives birth unto the Super-essential. To the Unapproachable, earth is providing the grotto. Angels sing and with the shepherds offer up glory. Following a star the Magi are still proceeding. He was born for our salvation, a newborn Child, the pre-eternal God. Translation by Hieromonk Seraphim Dedes
Things To Do as a Family
Place an Icon of the Nativity of Christ in a special place in your home. Use it with your children to talk about the Nativity Story and each individual or important item in the icon. For information about the Nativity, go to www.goarch.org / Our Faith / Major Feasts.
Set up a Nativity scene with your children to keep in their room or the family room. Have a family member tell the Nativity story as the Scene is assembled.
Use the Troparion and Kontakion as part of your family’s mealtime and bedtime prayers on Christmas Day, and for the eight days following the feast (the Afterfeast).
Read the Nativity Gospel: Luke 2:1-20. Very young children may enjoy a children's version of the Nativity story from a Bible Storybook. With younger children, it is best to read the story several times during the week. Consider using the Nativity scene figures to retell the story.
Attend the Vesper-Liturgy on Christmas Eve or the Liturgy on Christmas Day. This will keep the focus of this Holy Day on Christ’s birth and its importance in our life and salvation. Be proactive when making choices.
Visit a shut-in parishioner or friend. Plan ahead so you can bring Antidoron, the Blessed Bread from the Christmas Liturgy and a Church Bulletin, plus a homemade gift to share along with your Christmas greeting:
Christ is Born! Glorify Him!