"What shall we offer Thee, O Christ? For Thou hast appeared on earth as man for our sakes. Of all the creatures made by Thee, each offereth Thee thanksgiving. The Angels offer Thee the hymn; the Heavens, the star; the Magi, their gifts; the shepherds, their wonder; the earth, her cave; the wilderness, the manger; and we offer Thee a Virgin Mother. O God, Who wast before the ages, have mercy on us." (From the Vesperal Divine Liturgy of the Forefeast of Nativity)
Beloved in Christ,
The Nativity event encounters us with a great mystery, the mystery of God becoming a human being, to save my human nature and to make me god in grace. When we look at the icon of the Nativity of the Lord, it is captivating how silent it is. Many figures in it, the Incarnate God, Joseph, Mary, the shepherds, the magi, the angels, and as you read in the hymn above each on is offering a special gift to the Lord. At the same time, they are all silent, not a single figure in the Nativity narrative is saying a word but the angels; Heaven is the only character talking.
This feast comes to us this year so different as our life has become so different of what we used to have due to the pandemic. But although everything around us is not the same anymore, this glorious Feast has not changed, it is still the feast of God coming in flesh to save us, it is the feast of God breaking into our life and time and space and even pain and sickness to save us.
Yes, this Christmas is a lot quieter that the one we used to celebrate in the previous years, where we used to have a pageant, concert, cookie walk, all other activities that are not available for us this year. Nevertheless, let us read the hymn quoted above, and look at the icon so we appreciate the quietness of the Nativity (Christmas) this year, and take it as an opportunity to ask ourselves, what am I offering to this loving Lord who is becoming a human being like me? The hymn encourages us to offer Him the Theotokos, as a mother and intercessor, so we pray to her to intercede for us to the Lord to have mercy on us.
I invite you this Christmas, the different Christmas, to first enjoy and cherish your family, and all that God has blessed you with, and then to think about how do I relate to this Loving God, to Jesus Christ, and what I want to offer to Him.
May God bless you and keep you safe and healthy. My family and I are grateful to your love and support for being our family here in Baltimore, MD.
Christ is Born, Glorify Him!
Rev. Fr. Damaskinos and the family.