CHRISTMAS IN ORTHODOX WORSHIP (Part II)

My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,

CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

CHRISTMAS IN ORTHODOX WORSHIP

The Sun of Righteousness

What does the Coming to earth of the Son of God mean? Above all, it means that people ARE ILLUMINED, that Spiritual Light is bestowed upon them. This idea is continually being put forward in the Christmas hymnody of the Orthodox Christian Church. In the Troparion for the Christmas Feast which, as is customary, explains the basic meaning of the Feast, there is this direct statement:

"Thy Nativity, O Christ Our God,
Has ILLUMINED THE WORLD like the Light of Wisdom."

God ENLIGHTENS EACH OF US in the way that is most accessible and understandable to the particular person. And when He wished to enlighten the Wise Men, whose custom it was to observe the stars and their movements, HE sent them an unusual Star which guided them to the Christ Child and gave them the opportunity to pay homage to the Infant as the Most Glorious Luminary in the world, a Moral "Star" –the Sun of Righteousness. In the events which accompanied the birth of Christ,

"…They who worshipped the stars were through a star,
Taught to WORSHIP THEE, the Day-Spring from on High."

The Star gave the Wise men an opportunity to see the Rise of the Sun of Righteousness. But the Light of Christ’s Righteousness is NOT an earthly light. Its motion was not from out of the earth towards the firmament of heaven, nor from the horizon to the zenith, nor upwards from below, but FROM ABOVE DOWNWARDS, Shining high above the earth, it descended thereon from the Heights of Heaven and ILLUMINED THE WORLD WITH Divine Light. It was the Day-Spring from on High. And all who have sat IN SPIRITUAL DARKNESS, AND WAITED FOR THE True Light have, like the Wise Men, COME TO KNOW THIS EXTRAORDINARY Day-Spring of the Sun of Righteousness.
At Christmas Our Holy Church chants:

"Our Savior hath visited us from o High…
And we who were plunged in darkness and shadows
Have found the Truth,
For the Lord hath been born of the Virgin."
[Chrismas Orthros (Matins). The Photagogikon]

All light fades, but Christ IS THE "SUN WHICH DOES NOT
EVER SET, THAT GIVES LIGHT TO THE WHOLE UNIVERSE."
[Pre-Christmas Sticheron].
He is the "Light" of Light," ("Fos ek Fotos") the "Light of the Father," by which "THE WHOLE CREATION WAS LIGHTED."
[Sticheron by Patr. Anatolius]
His Light is the Light of True Knowledge of God and God’s Laws. Through Christ "THE WORSHIP OF MANY GODS WAS
ABOLISHED" AND IT IS THROUGH Him that paganism, of which there have been successive "new" revivals right up to our
times has been stripped of its masks, no matter how seductive the various forms it has taken may have been:

"Therefore, having been brought into the Light
Of the knowledge of God,
We glorify Thee in song,
Who art the Lover of man."
[Christmas canon. Canticle V. Irmos]

REGENERATION

Christ is not only the Great Teacher but the Savior too. In order to do good it is not enough merely to know good. And Christ gives men the power to accomplish good along with the ability to understand it.

"Sin (Amartia) entered the world, and death through sin" {For Adam, sin came first (the "ancestral sin") and then death. Sin (Αμαρτία) violated the integrity of the human soul; it deflected the soul’s activity from the orderly pattern for which the very structure of the soul had been designed. The soul’s powers, instead of being perfected through work, have degenerated due to their having been used unsuitably. Man’s organism began to disintegrate AND THE END-RESULT WAS EVIDENT AS HIS FINAL DESTRUCTION OR DEATH.

"A sound mind in a healthy body" –so the Romans believed. Without denying that this idea is true to some extent, Christianity has placed special emphasis on another aspect of the interrelationship between SOUL and BODY. It has stressed SPIRITUAL HEALTH as the factor which preserves the Life-energy of the whole human organism. From this point of view, it was the healthy and cheerful spirit of the First Created man. Adam, which had at first raised the vitality and strengthened the energy of the human body. But the DISRUPTION OF MAN’S SPIRITUAL BALANCE BY SIN AND THE RESULTING MORBID ENFEEBLEMENT, INSTABILITY, AND SPIRITUAL DEPRESSION HAVE ALSO DISRUPTED THE PHYSICAL ACTIVITY OF THE HUMAN ORGANISM. Consequently, the human body also started to grow weaker and fall into ruin. This posterity of "Adam, our common Forefather," became through the process of heredity a sinful, diseased, and hence A MORTAL ONE. Under the influence of the "POISON OF DISOBEDIENCE" by the first human being the ever-increasing moral and physical self-disintegration of mankind kept on developing, as did the loss of man’s power to withstand evil and strengthen himself in the good.

But now Christ has appeared IN ORDER TO RESTORE THE LIFE THAT WAS PERISHING, THAT IS RETURN IT TO THE FORMER STATE:

"Man, who, being made in the image of God,
Had become corrupt through sin, and was full of vileness,
And had fallen away from the better life Divine,
Doth the Wise Creator RESTORE ANEW."
[Christmas canon.  Canticle I. Troparion]

If mankind were perishing of A SPIRITUAL POISON, then THE ANTIDOTE TO IT MUST ALSO BE SPIRITUAL. As a consequence of the appearance of God’s Son on earth, the "powers of the Godhead" HAVE PENETRATED INTO THIS HUMAN RACE, "THE WORLD IS UNITED WITH IMMATERIAL BEINGS," with the Divine Spirit. [2nd Christmas canon. Canticle V. Troparion]
Through this influx of new strength mankind IS REBORN INTO A NEW LIFE:

"… As God, Christ, will bring to Adam’s seed
The gift of a Wondrous Rebirth.
Rejoice, ye barren deserts;
Be joyful, all human creatures;
The Lord has come to make Thee
FRUITFUL FOR GOOD."
[Pre-Christmas canon. Canticle 1. Troparion]

_______________
"Glory Be To GOD

For
All Things!"

– Saint John Chrysostomos

+ + +


With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),

The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+ Father George


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