“O cave in Bethlehem, prepare yourself to receive the Mother of God who carries Christ within her womb! O manger, receive the Word Who destroys the sins of mankind! O shepherds, keep watch and bear witness to the awesome wonder! O magi, come from Persia and bring your gifts to the King!” (vespers service)
“Have your lamps lit, be like those who are waiting for their master” (Luke 12:35-36)
A theme that runs through this Christmas Fast is that of waiting in watchful hope.
One of the models we have as we make our journey through these days is the Mother of God. Luke’s Gospel says of her: “Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19) He repeats this again in the 54th verse of this chapter. What was it that Mary treasured and pondered over? It was the events of her Son’s life. It was the ancient prophecies of the Old Testament, those scriptures that were so much a part of her life. The Mother of God was growing in her understanding of God’s plan for her. She responded to God’s will with her acceptance, “Let it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)
Our task during this time of spiritual preparation to celebrate Christmas is to, in some way, imitate the Mother of God by pondering the word of God and allowing it to resonate within our lives. Through prayer, the Sacraments of Confession and the Eucharist we too open ourselves to this joyful event of the birth of Christ. We wait in joyful hope. Joseph, Mary, the angels, the magi and shepherds and ourselves, are invited to approach Bethlehem. The prayers of this season invite all of us to approach in expectation and wonder and see what new things God is doing in our lives.
It is an opportunity for us to focus on developing an attitude of expectancy, which is so essential to our spiritual life…
We live in hope. Even though our families and we may at the present time be going through dark and difficult times. Christ coming bring light into the shadows and gloom of our lives.
The final words of the Bible read: “Come, Lord Jesus Christ!” This was the prayer of the early Church. Let it be our prayer also as we wait in joyful hope. It is a prayer that will be answered in new and surprising ways during this Christmas season.
Thursday, Thanksgiving Day. The Communion verse for this day gives us a question: “How can I repay the Lord for His goodness to me?”
Eucharist is the Greek word for Thanksgiving. Why not attend The Divine Liturgy and receive Eucharist on this day?
The tropar for this day reads:
“You made the earth, O God, and all it contains. You have given us a share in Your life. All creation sings praise to You. As our forefathers gave thanks to You after coming to these shores, we, Your unworthy servants also give thanks to You on this day for all You benefits throughout our history.”
How can we repay the Lord for all His goodness to us?
Originally published on November 23rd, 2003