Some thoughts on Christmas

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The Nativity of Christ

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

though shutters

hugging windows tight

infiltrating the friendly duskiness

of my little room unkept.

Sitting on my little stool

hunched over dusty, old books

my grandfather’s

studying hymns

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)

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The Myrrh-Bearing Women at the empty tomb of Christ

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

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6 thoughts on “Some thoughts on Christmas

    1. My pleasure Bruce. I’m absolutely stoked that you enjoyed the video (probably because I am a chantor and am just a tad bit obsessed with this type of music!) May you have a blessed Christmas 🙂

      Eleni

  1. I’m glad you didn’t shy away from posting (but I’ve felt your hesitation before so I totally get it 🙂 )

    My husband’s family is Greek Orthodox, but they aren’t practicing, so I’m not familiar with the customs/beliefs.

    Love the quote, “God became man so that man might become god.” This is the reason to celebrate Christmas.

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