Dear Clergy and Faithful
Bethlehem, make ready,
for Eden has been opened for all.
Ephrata, be alert,
for the Tree of Life has blossomed forth from
the Virgin in a cave.
Her womb has become a spiritual Paradise
wherein the divine Fruit was planted –
And if we eat it, we shall live
and not die like Adam.
Christ is coming to restore the image
that had been lost in the beginning.
Troparion for Forefeast of Christmas
The season of God’s manifestations in the flesh is upon us. It is not just his birth in Bethlehem’s cave: He is named and circumcised according to his people’s tradition; He enters the temple after 40 days to encounter his people; He is baptized by John in the midst of his people. All these events proclaim and celebrate the gift of the Word of God who is fully revealed to us in the person of Jesus Christ. As the Troparion above says: Truly Jesus becomes a human being to restore the image lost in the beginning in Paradise with the sin of Adam and Eve. These feasts reveal to us God’s saving work in the world through his Son. They are not just historical narratives, for Jesus is very much alive today in the world through the proclamation of the Gospel – God’s saving action in our lives.
We refer to this entire forty-day season in a general way as the Christmas season.
Christmas means that “The Word (the Eternal God) became flesh and dwelt among us, full of Grace and Truth” (John 1:14).
Christmas means God is not an impersonal machine or super power who runs the universe by remote control. He is a Person “Emmanuel – God with us.” “And you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Mt 1:21).
God is a Person who wants to establish a personal relationship with you. A Person to whom you can pray, a Person who cares for you.
Christmas means that God has visited his people and not just a visit but here to stay. He is with us in joy and sorrow, living and dying, and he will come again at the end of time to judge the living and the dead.
Christmas means that we do not have to be terrorized by the sins of the past. God’s great gift to us is a Savior wrapped in human flesh. He came to wipe out our sins of the past and restore us to holiness.
Christmas means that God cared to give us the Best. “God so loved the world that He gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (Jn 3:16).
God did not send an angel or a saint or a prophet – He came HIMSELF IN PERSON.
Christmas means that there are two births of Christ: one in Bethlehem for all; the other in each of us to allow us to be spiritually reborn. He unites our humanity with his divinity – the initial plan for all of us in Paradise. He allows us to be a communicant of the Divine nature through Theosis, becoming GODLY.
He was born in the first Bethlehem so that he might come and be born in the second Bethlehem – your soul and mine!
Our liturgical prayers tell us we “behold a strange and wonderful mystery: The cave is heaven, the Virgin a cherubic throne, the manger, a noble place where reposes Christ, the uncontainable God.” (9th Ode of Nativity).
Accept Christ in, allow Him space in you, and not just will the “cave be heaven,” your body too will be heaven with Christ reposing in you and restoring you to touch the divinity.
I offer all of you my best wishes during this glorious season, asking you to stay safe during this COVID crisis. Pray for each other, care for each other, love each other, for you have Christ living within you.
With my love and prayers, I remain,
Sincerely in Christ God,
Most Rev. Nicholas Samra
Eparchial Bishop of Newton