My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST:
MAGI AND THE STAR BETHLEHEM
Your birth, O Christ our God, dawned the light of knowledge upon the earth. For by Your birth those who adored stars (i.e. Magi) were taught by a star to worship You, the Sun of Justice, and to know You, Orient from on High. O Lord, glory to You!!!
The Nativity according to the flesh of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ, also called Christmas, is one of the Great Feast of the Holy Orthodox Christian Church. According to our Holy Tradition, in the fullness of time, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was born to the Holy Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, thus entering into the world and human history, as a man and revealing Himself to mankind.
According to the Holy Bible and Holy Tradition, three Magi (Magoi) travelled from the East to see and to worship the new born King. The three Wise Men are commonly depicted in Orthodox hagiography (iconography) as visiting during the event itself. The Holy Bible records the coming of an unspecified number of wise men as being a few years after Jesus' birth (see St. Matthew 2). In either case, these Magi came bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh (St. Matthew 2:11). In the hymnography for the feast, these gifts are interpreted to signify Christ's royalty (King of kings), divinity (God) and suffering (the Cross).
TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS
The second day of the feast starts a two-day celebration of the Synaxis of the Theotokos. Combining the hymns of the Nativity with those celebrating the Theotokos (Mother of God), our Holy Orthodox Christian Church points to the Panagia (All-Holy) as the one through whom the Incarnation was made possible. Saint Stefanos (St. Stephen), the Protomartyr (the First Martyr), is also commemorated on these two days (this coming Sunday).
On the Sunday after Christmas the Holy Church commemorates James the Brother of Our Lord, David the King, and Joseph the Betrothed.
Eight days after the Nativity, is the Holy Feast of the Circumcision of our Lord.
The Festal period extends to the Holy Feast of Theophany (Epiphany) during which time the Christmas hymns and kneeling in prayer are not called for by our Church. Throughout this time, it is the Orthodox tradition of some Orthodox Christians to greet each other with the words: "Christ is born!" and the response: "Glorify Him!"
THE KONTAKION HYMN OF THE HOLY NATIVITY
Today the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent One, And the earth offers a cave to the Unapproachable One! Angels with shepherds glorify Him! The wise men journey with a star! Since for our sake the Eternal God was born as a Little Child!
THE STAR OF BETHLEHEM
In Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church, the star of Bethlehem is not interpreted as an astronomical happening, but rather as a supernatural occurrence, whereby an Angel was sent by God to lead the Magi to the Christ Child. This is revealed in the Hymn of the Nativity:
"...For by Your Birth those who adored the stars were taught by a star to worship You..."
In the holy icons of Our Church, the Star of Bethlehem is often depicted not as golden, but as a dark aureola, a semicircle at the top of the holy icon, indicating the uncreated light of Divine Grace, with a ray pointing to "the place where the young Child lay" (St. Matthew 2:9). Sometimes the faint image of an Angel is drawn inside the aureola.
CHRIST IS BORN! GLORIFY HIM!
The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
Glory Be To GOD For All Things!
With sincere agape in Our Incarnate Lord,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God