Artaban's Gifts: A Story (Part II)

The Jew thanked the Persian Magi once again and the two men went their separate ways. Artaban turned back; it would be folly to attempt the journey through the desert alone; he needed to hire some men for protection, to buy some camels and load them with provisions and water. A week went by. He was obliged to sell one of the gems in order to equip his caravan, but Artaban did not sorrow too much; he still had two gems. The main thing was not to be late in reaching the King. He hurried the servants, and the caravan moved as quickly as possible. Finally, they reached Bethlehem. Tired, dusty, but happy, he rode up to the first house. He went in and showered the host with questions. "Did some men from the East come here to Bethlehem? Where did they go? Where are they now?

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Our Personal Struggle to Prepare for the Birth of Christ our Lord and Savior

I would like to encourage all of you to continue your struggle to prepare spiritually for the Birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. During this holy season the Orthodox Christian intensifies his or her spiritual lives in order to ready our souls and bodies for the Great Feast. We do this through fasting, prayer, alms-giving, repentance/confession and increased attention given to "preparing for His coming" to make sure we've done what we can to make a "fit dwelling place for Him" in our hearts and lives.

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The Nativity Sermon of Saint John Chrysostom

Behold a new and wondrous mystery. My ears resound to the Shepherd's song, piping no soft melody, but chanting full forth a heavenly hymn. The Angels sing. The Archangels blend their voice in harmony. The Cherubim hymn their joyful praise. The Seraphim exalt His Glory. All join to praise this holy feast, beholding the Godhead here on earth, and man in heaven. He Who is above, now for our redemption dwells here below; and he that was lowly is by Divine mercy raised.

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The Gifts of the Wise Men

The Wise Men's Gifts, gold, frankincense, and myrrh, according to the Sacred Tradition of the Orthodox Church, were kept by Jesus' Mother, the Most Holy Theotokos. They were her most priceless possessions. Just before her falling asleep (koimisis) and, after blessing them she gave them, for safekeeping, to two of Christ's faithful virgins, who cared for her. Together with the holy gifts, she gave them also her holy gown, her sacred belt, and Jesus' holy swaddling clothes.

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Saint Spyridon the Wonderworker, Bishop of Tremithus

The island of Cyprus was both the birthplace of this famous Saint and the place in which he spent his life in the service of the Church to the end of his days. He married young and had children, but when his wife died, he devoted himself entirely to the service of God. He was chosen for his devotion as Bishop of Tremithus, and even as a bishop did not change his simple lifestyle of life, taking charge of his cattle himself and tilling his own land. He consumed very little of his own produce, giving the greater part to the poor.

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