The birth in the flesh of Our Lord and God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The earliest commemoration of the birth of Christ is recorded in Egypt. It was celebrated together with the visit of the Magi and Christ’s baptism in the Jordan, on January 6, the great feast of the Theophany. Today’s date had formerly been an important pagan festival on the occasion of the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. From this point, the sun begins to climb to its zenith and the days grow longer.
The frequent references to Christ as the “Sun of Justice” and the “Orient from on high” reflect the ancient roots of this feast and express the cosmic significance of Christ’s birth. With God’s incarnation, all creation acquires new meaning, finally leading to its ultimate transfiguration.
Icons of the Nativity show this by portraying all the elements of creation taking part in the sacred event: representing the angels is Gabriel; from mankind, the virgin; from creatures, the ox and ass; from the earth, a cave; from the heavens, a star. In this humble setting, all are centered on the infant in swaddling clothes, the Sun of Justice on whom the world may now gaze. (NS)
The emphasis of the Christmas troparia (the hymns) was not only on the Nativity in the Flesh of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ,
“Today the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent One, and the earth offers a cave to the Unapproachable One! Angels, with shepherds, glorify Him! The wise men journey with a star! Since for our sake the Eternal God is born as a little child” (Kontakion).
BUT also to reframe the pagan (unbelieving) crowd who hold to secular and folks tales as true offering them the possibility of salvation with, in and through Jesus Christ –the True Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4). The false beliefs of the pagans of 2000 years ago are the same today: the rejection of the revelation of the One, Triune God in Jesus’ becoming flesh for our redemption. There is a polemic established in the Church’s troparion because it puts aside pagan worship and gives truth and adored. The Church sings,
“Your Nativity, O Christ our God, has shone to the world the light of wisdom! For by it, those who worshipped the stars were taught by a star to adore You, the Sun of Righteousness and to know You, the Orient from on high (LK 1:78 also translated as Dawn or Dayspring). O Lord, glory to You!”
The pulsating heart and mind comes to accept and confess that at Christmas we know and love and adore Son of God became man so that man might become divine, sons and daughters of God the Father by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Blessed Christmas season,
Father Dennis and Lisa McCarthy