The truth is that I thought twice before publishing this post (a symptom of our political correct society, I think). Anyway, I decided to post because I like to share the creative works of my Greek Orthodox Christian tradition (images, words and music) with regards to Christmas – hopefully I won’t scare everyone away 😉
As the day comes to an end
the sun sets itself to sleep
the moon gently peeks its sheer beams
hugging windows tight
infiltrating the friendly duskiness
of my little room unkept.
Sitting on my little stool
hunched over dusty, old books
of the fore-feast
of the Nativity.
He, who in ancient times hid the pursuing tyrant (reference to Moses and Pharaoh), beneath the waves of the sea, is now hid in a manger… or was it beneath the earth – I forget? The melody reminds me of the of the service of Great and Holy Saturday (the day before Easter Sunday). The day when all stood still in awe of the Creator, who was hid beneath the earth. When all of creation was silenced, beholding the extreme ends of humility: the utmost emptying of the Creator.
(Excerpt from the Service of Holy and Great Saturday)
As I look at the icon of His birth I see Him lying in a manger, one that looks suspiciously like a tomb. He is wrapped in swaddling cloth, very much like the linen that He would be wrapped in thirty-three years later. The Magi are on their way bearing gifts – gold for a king, frankincense for a priest and myrrh for the God-man who would be buried and… anointed. The angel proclaims the great tidings to those anonymous, unimportant shepherds who would be the first to meet Him, very much like the angel who quietly proclaimed the good news to the Myrrh-Bearing Women. He is greeted quietly, in obscurity. In the centre, His Mother worships Him, that same Mother who was first to behold Him raised from the dead. And I am confused, thrown…
The image, the melody, the words, remind me of Pascha (Easter) – the reason why. It suddenly dawned on me. The reason behind the Nativity was not just to bring a ‘la-di-da’ peace to the world, or to give us a reason to exchange presents. There was something more to these creative works that imbued me with a gentle wounding of the heart – contrition, a joyful sorrow. The reason? something more profound and meaningful:
“God became man so that man might become god.”
St Athanasius of Alexandria
On the Incarnation