Archive for the ‘Nativity of the Savior’ Category

We worship Thy Nativity, O Christ, Show us also Thy divine Theophany Nativity of Jesus Christ, Eve of Nativity. Text/Audio.

Friday, January 6th, 2012


We worship Thy Nativity, O Christ, Show us also Thy divine Theophany

Nativity of Jesus Christ, Eve of Nativity

December 24, 2011

 

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

 

Today, brothers and sisters, on this pre‑feast of Nativity, we hear so much about the humility and the lowliness of Christ.  Many things that are not befitting of a king are happening.  He is poor.  He is born of a woman that is not even married; this is a scandal to society.  He is born in a cave, in a manger, a cold manger because it was winter.  And kings come to Him, later on, not on the day of His birth, a little bit later when they were in the house, to worship Him.  They worshipped a poor Man in a poor little house.  Usually when a king's son is born, it is heralded over the entire country.  And only a few shepherds heard.

 

So many things that are contradictions about the way the world treats its kings, happened to our Lord.  I think that's all for our purpose.  That is to show us the way to live.  Of course, our Lord gave us an example how to live, and He fulfilled that example.  That was an essential purpose of the Incarnation.  We can't say it was only to forgive sin.  It was also, and more importantly, so that we could obliterate sin so that sin could be cast out from us.  The way for that to happen is for us to be told the way and shown it, by example, and for us to be given the ability to follow the way.  And that is what we celebrate in the Incarnation, in the Nativity of the Lord. 

 

Now, we just read from St. Luke's account about the Nativity that Mary kept all these things conjecturing them in her heart.  We should follow that example.  That's very, very important.

 

That is what the services really do.  All of our services are this conjecturing in our heart, this thinking about holy things and rephrasing the dogmas of our faith in ways that touch us.  If you listen to the services carefully, you will see things or hear things every day that are striking to you, that are amazing to you, that cut you to the core.  And you should conjecture on them in your heart.

 

One cannot think too much about the Incarnation or about the Resurrection or about the humility of our Lord or about the coming of the Holy Spirit or about any dogma or any truth or any teaching that is in all of the Scriptures, whether it be in the Gospel or the epistles or anywhere else.

 

I know a story of a monk that had left and gone out into the wilderness because he heard the first portion of the first Psalm, and he meditated upon that and tried to live according to that for his entire life.  And that's enough if we conjecture even such a small part of a Psalm in our heart.

 

Now, today in the ninth hour there is this solemn troparion that is sung.  It's sung three times in the middle of the church.  It is very beautiful, very profound, and you do prostrations afterwards.  And its meaning is something that you should conjecture in your heart because it ends in this very solemn and profound way:  

 

"We worship Thy Nativity, O, Christ.  We worship Thy Nativity, O Christ.  Show us also Thy divine Theophany."

 

Now, Nativity and Theophany have always been connected historically.  There was a time when they were a single feast.  Now they are disconnected by twelve days, but they are still connected in our liturgy.  They are still connected in our hymnology.  So this is certainly a reference to the Theophany about to occur.  We have another name for it, Epiphany or the Baptism of Christ.  Theophany and Epiphany basically mean about the same thing.  They are a manifestation of God to man. 

 

And there have been many Theophanies such as when the holy children saw the Angel of the Lord in the furnace; that is none other than the pre‑incarnate Jesus Christ.  Abraham gave hospitality to three Angels; one of them was the Angel of the Lord, the pre‑incarnate Jesus Christ. 

 

Moses was in the mountain and he said, "I want to see Thy face."  The Lord says, "You can't see My face.  No one can see My face and live."  But He said, "I will show you My back parts.  I will put you in the cleft of the rock."  And when the glory of the Lord passed by, Moses was in the cleft of the rock.  That was a Theophany of the pre‑incarnate Lord Jesus Christ. 

 

But now we don't have to have Theophanies of the pre‑incarnate Lord Jesus Christ because He has been born of the woman and He is now a Man, a perfected Man, as we should become.

 

So when we are singing this, deeply in your heart, you should feel what the purpose of the Incarnation is for.  It is so that we could see the divine Theophany.  We're not talking about the feast coming up twelve days after Christmas.  We're talking about the manifestation of God in the Psalm, because our purpose is to know God and know Him intimately.

 

So this is why the Lord was born.  This is why the Lord taught.  This is why the Lord assembled twelve apostles and why He died on the Cross for us and why He resurrected and why He ascended into the Heavens and then sent the Holy Spirit to us.  All of these things are for one purpose and one purpose only:  So that we would know Him. 

 

We cannot know Him without becoming purified.  So when we say, "We worship Thy Nativity, O Christ; show us also Thy divine Theophany," we are begging the Lord for help.  We're being aware that the Lord has come so that we could be purified so that we could know Him. 

 

"To the pure all things are pure," the Scripture says.  And also, "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God."  We cannot see God and know Him without becoming purified.  But if you look in your own life, you will see there are a lot of things that are not pure and not good. 

 

The Lord came so that those things would become purified; the darkness would become light, and the coldness would become warmth.  And the blindness would become all eye, all seeing, so that we would see the Lord as He is and not be afraid.

 

This is what we are praying for:  That the Lord would indwell in us, cleanse us of all sin, so that we would be in a perfected state; so that we could see Him and know Him as He is ‑‑ not as a pre‑incarnate Angel of the Lord, but as the God‑Man Jesus Christ, the eternal One, the Only Begotten of the Father, the Lord of Heaven and the earth ‑‑ and be in His presence and not be ashamed but be glad. 

 

This is what we are asking for.  If you read this hymn or sing it ‑‑ it's better to sing it, of course, if you can, because it's much more beautiful; it's in the sixth tone ‑‑ it begins speaking about the contradictions.  And as I said in the beginning, this is important because the things that the Lord did were all for example:  The prophecies that were given, those that are His progenitors, their lives:  Are examples.  Everything about Him is an example about how we should live.

 

The King of all, the Creator of the universe, humbled Himself to become a poor Man.  So we should humble ourselves.  It doesn't matter if we are poor in terms of monetary wealth or not, but we must be poor in spirit or else we can't know God. 

 

So here is what this hymn says. 

 

"Today He Who in essence is God intangible and holdeth all creation in His hand is born of the Virgin and wrapped as a mortal in swaddling bands.  He lieth in a manger, Who established the Heavens by His Word in the beginning.  He is fed at the breast with milk, Who rained down manna upon the people in the wilderness.  The Bridegroom of the Church summoneth the magi; the Son of the Virgin receiveth their gifts.  We worship Thy Nativity, O Christ.  We worship Thy Nativity, O Christ.  We worship Thy Nativity, O Christ.  Show us also Thy divine Theophany."

 

So let it be for us.  Let us become as the God‑Man.  So that we can have His Theophany shown to us, in us.  Amen. 

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2011

 

This and other Orthodox materials are available in from:

St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

·         Mailing Address: Box 37, McKinney, TX 75070

·         Rectory Phone: 972/529-2754

·         Email: seraphim@orthodox.net

·         Web Page: http://www.orthodox.net

·         Redeeming the Time Blog: http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime/

 

This homily is at:

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/feasts-of-the-savior-nativity-03_2011-01-06+eve-of-nativity+we-worship-thy-nativity-o-christ-show-us-also-thy-divine-theophany.doc

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/feasts-of-the-savior-nativity-03_2011-01-06+eve-of-nativity+we-worship-thy-nativity-o-christ-show-us-also-thy-divine-theophany.doc

AUDIO: http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/feasts-of-the-savior-nativity-03_2011-01-06+eve-of-nativity+we-worship-thy-nativity-o-christ-show-us-also-thy-divine-theophany.mp3

 

 

 

http://www/.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime

Archive of commentaries: http://www.orthodox.net/scripture

Archive of homilies: http://www.orthodox.net/sermons

 

To receive regular mailings of sermons, and scriptural and services commentary and other things throughout the church year, read our blog “Redeeming the Time” (http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime). You may also subscribe to the RSS Feed or receive its postings by email.

 

Our parish Email list (http://groups.google.com/group/saint-nicholas-orthodox-church) also has all the latest postings from our website and blog; everyone is welcome to join.

 

All rights reserved.  Please use this material in any edifying reason. We ask that you contact St. Nicholas if you wish to distribute it in any way.  We grant permission to post this text, if completely intact only, including this paragraph and the URL of the text, to any electronic mailing list, church bulletin, web page or blog.

 

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Sunday after Nativity. Joseph the Betrothed.

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

Sunday after Nativity

Joseph the Betrothed

 

Joseph the Betrothed, with Christ. http://www.orthodox.net/ikons/joseph-the-betrothed-02.png

In the Sundays before the Nativity, we recalled all the forefathers, both of the flesh and of the spirit, who lead up to Christ. Today we celebrate the memory of three particular saints who are closely related to our Lord, David the King, Joseph the Betrothed, and James the Brother of the Lord.

 

The prophet and King David is the source of the royal line of the Hebrews from which both the Virgin Mary and the righteous Joseph were descended. Because of this lineage, Jesus Christ could properly be called, "King of the Jews" for in the flesh, He is of royal lineage. Of course, because He is also God, the maker and ruler of all creation and was therefore not only King of the Jews but King of all that is.

 

From each of these righteous men – David, Joseph and James – we learn much about the spiritual life. David, of course, was a man after God's own heart, as the scripture tells us and so from him, we can learn how to draw near to God. Even when he fell into grave sin, we see from David's deep and heartfelt repentance our own path back to God when we fall away.

 

James, the Brother of the Lord, was the first bishop of the Church in Jerusalem. He presided over the first apostolic council (which is described in the book of Acts) and was finally martyred for his confession of Jesus Christ.

 

Joseph, the betrothed of the Virgin Mary, was chosen by God to be the guardian of Jesus Christ and his holy Mother, a task which he performed with great humility and diligence.

 

Too often when we consider the saints we tend to project our own situation and passions on them and as a result they become a bit clouded. Few are more distorted in popular life than the righteous Joseph and so it is important to stop occasionally to see who he really was.

 



Joseph the Betrothed. http://www.orthodox.net/ikons/joseph-the-betrothed-03.png First we must remember that Joseph was not a young man, he was indeed already a widower of many years with at least six grown children (there may have been more as the number of daughters is uncertain). At the time he was chosen to be the guardian of the Virgin Mary he was already 80 years old and according to the great menaion of St Dimitri of Rostov he lived to be 110 (meaning that he died just before Jesus began His public ministry).

 

Although he was of royal lineage (being in the line of David the King) Joseph was a poor man who earned his living by means of hard labor (for he was a carpenter). Being a carpenter in that time did not mean going to the lumberyard and picking up a load of 2×4's, plywood and nails with which to build a house – rather it meant going out, felling a tree, sawing it and shaping it into what was needed and then, without nails, assembling that lumber into what was desired. It was extremely hard labor, and this was the daily life of Joseph.

 

He was miraculously chosen by God to be the guardian of the Virgin Mary when she was no longer able to live in the Temple. Although it was the custom for young women such as her to return home and wed and raise families, she was unable to return home as her parents, Joachim and Anna, had died and she was the only child. Also she had made a vow to remain a virgin dedicated to the service of God and the priests recognizing her piety and holiness did not wish to force her to break that vow.

 

Therefore all the eligible widowers were gathered at the temple and from each one was taken a staff which was then placed in the Holy of Holies. The staff of Joseph began to bud just as the staff of Aaron had in ancient times to indicate that he was the one chosen by God. Though he sought to avoid this honor, Joseph finally submitted to the will of God and took the Virgin Mary into his household and for her protection she was betrothed to Him (otherwise she would be considered a prostitute or a mistress, being found in the household of an unrelated man.) Thus we call Joseph, "the betrothed" to set him apart as the chosen protector of the Virgin Mary and her divine Child.

 

Joseph was also righteous, that is, he heard the word of the Lord and kept it. When the Virgin was found to be with child, he assumed this pregnancy to be the result of youthful passion and adultery. He set out to resolve the matter secretly so that she would not be accused or exposed to public dishonor. But before he could accomplish this, an angel came to him in a dream and revealed to him that this pregnancy was not the fruit of sin, but rather that it was the miraculous fruit of righteousness and that the Virgin had been chosen by God to bear the Messiah, miraculously conceived without an earthly father.

 

Joseph became, at this moment, the very first convert to the Christian faith for he abandoned his own fallen opinion and received with joy the revelation of God that this Child would be for the salvation of not only the people of Israel, but of all mankind. Even though this belief was tested by the evil one (as we see depicted in the icon of the Nativity) Joseph did not doubt but remained faithful to the word of God that had been given to him by the angel. Later, after the birth of the Child, an angel again came to him and instructed him to take the Child and his mother (note the words here – the angel did not say "your wife and son" or even "your betrothed" but "the Child and his mother" indicating the true relationship between them all) into Egypt to avoid the wrath of Herod. Here we see a man, over 80 years old, in obedience to the word of God embark upon a very difficult journey of months over the sands of the desert from Israel into Egypt. Even today this is a difficult journey by car or train and at that time the only transportation was to walk. But Joseph, putting his trust in God, obeyed.

 

From this journey to Egypt and the return we can see the complete dependence and faith in God's providence in the life of Joseph. Joseph had no real idea where he was going; he did not know anyone in Egypt; he had no resources or connections. Like the Hebrew people of old, he simply followed day by day the leading of God. Even after having arrived in Egypt and settled there, when they returned again Joseph was redirected throughout the journey avoiding Jerusalem and Judea going into Galilee and finally returning to his home in Nazareth.

 

Throughout this whole time, Joseph acted out of simple trust and obedience to the word of the Lord. He had no guarantees or even any idea of what he would find each day, but trusted in God's provision on a day to day basis, knowing that as long as he was living in obedience to the word of God that God would in turn provide for him his needs.

 

Some 30 years later, Jesus Christ would reiterate this very attitude of simple daily dependence on God in the sermon on the mount. Because he heard the word of the Lord and kept it, because of his simple and unshakeable trust in God, and unwavering dependence upon providence of God, Joseph is known as one of the Righteous Ones.

 

In being the betrothed of the Virgin, Joseph is also known as the guardian and protector first of the Virgin Mary and then of her child the God/man Jesus Christ. This ministry as guardian of the Virgin and child is an angelic calling. From the intervention of the angels in the birth of Christ we can see that they themselves descended from heaven to serve God Who would become man and to wonder at the mystery of the incarnation. God, Who was above all things, submitted Himself not to the angelic life, but descended even to the physical world and become man. He was subject to all the dangers and corruption of the fallen physical world. He could be harmed, he could be injured and even killed. But the angels continued to serve and protect him and when they saw danger they warned those who were charged with the protection of the divine Child.

 

When the angels saw the intent of Herod to destroy the Christ Child through mass murder of the infants, the angel came to Joseph who was the earthly protector. The angel warned Joseph in a dream and committed the Child into his care. Joseph became the agent on earth of the angelic host who served God in heaven. In taking the Child and his mother to safety in Egypt, Joseph was doing the work of the holy angels and so shared the angelic calling. In Egypt, and later in returning to Israel, he continued to be the agent of the angelic host and even after his death, he performed the angelic task of proclaiming the good news for when he descended into Hades to await the coming salvation of the God/man Jesus Christ, he proclaimed the good news of the coming of the promised One to those among the righteous who awaited His coming that they might be freed from the captivity of the evil one.

 

Joseph was indeed one of the righteous and as the betrothed of the Virgin Mary, he became the agent of the angelic host in protecting and serving the incarnate God. His unfailing and undoubting trust in God stands for us as a shining example of how we can order our own lives. Just as he did we trust in God, we hear the word of the Lord and order our lives in obedience to it. Just as he served God in imitation of the angels, so also we serve our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

The righteous one, Joseph the betrothed, is the very first convert to the Christian faith and stands even now before the God/man Jesus Christ and His mother, the Virgin Mary as the first of us all who have left behind our own fallen and sinful lives in order to serve God and follow Jesus Christ as He leads us from earth to heaven.

 

Archpriest David Moser

St Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church (ROCOR)

Homilies: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/propoved/

Website: http://stseraphimboise.org

 

Posted with permission.

 

This and other Orthodox materials are available in from:

St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

·         Mailing Address: Box 37, McKinney, TX 75070

·         Rectory Phone: 972/529-2754

·         Email: seraphim@orthodox.net

·         Web Page: http://www.orthodox.net

·         Redeeming the Time Blog: http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime/

 

This homily is at:

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/feasts-of-the-savior-nativity-04_2011-01-09+sunday-after-nativity+joseph-the-betrothed.html

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/feasts-of-the-savior-nativity-04_2011-01-09+sunday-after-nativity+joseph-the-betrothed.doc

 

It is originally from a post to the “Propoved” mailing list:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/propoved/

 

 

http://www/.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime

Archive of commentaries: http://www.orthodox.net/scripture

Archive of homilies: http://www.orthodox.net/sermons

 

To receive regular mailings of sermons, and scriptural and services commentary and other things throughout the church year, read our blog “Redeeming the Time” (http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime). You may also subscribe to the RSS Feed or receive its postings by email.

 

Our parish Email list ( http://groups.google.com/group/saint-nicholas-orthodox-church) also has all the latest postings from our website and blog; everyone is welcome to join.

 

All rights reserved. Please use this material in any edifying reason. We ask that you contact St. Nicholas if you wish to distribute it in any way. We grant permission to post this text, if completely intact only, including this paragraph and the URL of the text, to any electronic mailing list, church bulletin, web page or blog.

 

 

 

 

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We worship Thy Nativity, O Christ! Show us also Thy divine Theophany. Audio.

Monday, January 10th, 2011

LISTEN NOW

Synopsis: At the Vesperal Divine Liturgy on the Eve of Nativity, a homily about on of the hymns of the Royal Hours. It expresses the connection between Nativity and Theophany, and especially how we must feel and what we must desire as we contemplate the incarnation.

"Today He Who in essence is God intangible and holdeth all creation in His hand is born of the Virgin and creation in His hand is born of the virgin and wrapped in swaddling bands. He lieth in a manger Who established in a manger Who established the heavens by His word in the beginning. He is fed at the breast with milk Who rained down manna upon the people in the wilderness. The Bridegroom of the church summoneth the magi; the Son of the virgin receiveth their gifts.
We worship Thy Nativity, O Christ!
We worship Thy Nativity, O Christ!
Show us also Thy divine Theophany. "



If the "LISTEN NOW" link does not work, copy this URL into your browser: http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/feasts-of-the-savior-nativity-03_2011-01-06+eve-of-nativity+we-worship-thy-nativity-o-christ-show-us-also-thy-divine-theophany.m3u

If this file does not work for you, try the direct link to the actual mp3 file:http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/feasts-of-the-savior-nativity-03_2011-01-06+eve-of-nativity+we-worship-thy-nativity-o-christ-show-us-also-thy-divine-theophany.mp3


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How to react to evil. Sunday after Nativity. 2011

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

flight-into-egypt-01

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Synopsis: On the Sunday after Nativity, we commemorate King David, Joseph the Betrothed, and James, the Brother of the Lord. The Gospel reading is about the Flight into Egypt. It teaches us how to react to evil. This is the opposite of the way the world reacts. We must learn this way if we are to understand anything about God – this is the way of meekness, the patience of faith and humility.

Many More homilies on Nativity are HERE

Matthew 2:13-23 13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. 14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: 15 And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son. 16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, 18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. 19 But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life. 21 And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: 23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.


If the "LISTEN NOW" link does not work, copy this URL into your browser: http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/feasts-of-the-savior-nativity-04_2011-01-09+sunday-after-nativity+how-to-react-to-evil_matthew2-13-23.m3u

If this file does not work for you, try the direct link to the actual mp3 file:http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/feasts-of-the-savior-nativity-04_2011-01-09+sunday-after-nativity+how-to-react-to-evil_matthew2-13-23.mp3


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The Wonder of the Incarnation St Gregory the Theologian (Nazianzen)

Saturday, January 8th, 2011

Read this homily carefully! It is a materpiece of Christological theology and rhetoric, and while accurately declaring important dogmas, it also captures the wonder of the incarnation. We MUST feel this wonder if we are true Christians.

The Wonder of the Incarnation

St Gregory the Theologian (Nazianzen)

 

St Gregory the Theologion http://www.orthodox.net/ikons/gregory-the-thelogion-nazianzen-01.jpg The very Son of God,

older than the ages,

the invisible,

the incomprehensible,

the incorporeal,

the beginning of beginning,

the light of light,

the fountain of life and immortality,

the image of the archetype,

the immovable seal,

the perfect likeness,

the definition and word of the Father:

 

He it is who comes to his own image and takes our nature for the good of our nature, and unites himself to an intelligent soul for the good of my soul, to purify like by like.

He takes to himself all that is human, except for sin.

 

He was conceived by the Virgin Mary, who had been first prepared in soul and body by the Spirit; his coming to birth had to be treated with honour, virginity had to receive new honour.

 

He comes forth as God, in the human nature he has taken, one being, made of two contrary elements, flesh and spirit. Spirit gave divinity, flesh received it.

He who makes rich is made poor; he takes on the poverty of my flesh, that I may gain the riches of his divinity.

 

He who is full is made empty; he is emptied for a brief space of his glory, that I may share in his fullness.

 

What is this wealth of goodness? What is this mystery that surrounds me?

 

I received the likeness of God, but failed to keep it. He takes on my flesh, to bring salvation to the image, immortality to the flesh. He enters into a second union with us, a union far more wonderful than the first.

Holiness had to be brought to man by the humanity assumed by one who was God, so that God might overcome the tyrant by force and so deliver us and lead us back to himself through the mediation of his Son. The Son arranged this for the honor of the Father, to whom the Son is clearly obedient in all things.

The Good Shepherd, who lays down his life for the sheep, came in search of the straying sheep to the mountains and hills on which you used to offer sacrifice. When he found it, he took it on the shoulders that bore the wood of the cross, and led it back to the life of heaven.

Christ, the light of all lights, follows John, the lamp that goes before him. The Word of God follows the voice in the wilderness; the bridegroom follows the bridegroom’s friend, who prepares a worthy people for the Lord by cleansing them by water in preparation for the Spirit.

 

We need God to take our flesh and die, that we might live.

 

We have died with him, that we may be purified.

 

We have risen again with him, because we have died with him.

 

We have been glorified with him, because we have risen again with him.

 

This and other Orthodox materials are available in from:

St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

·         Mailing Address: Box 37, McKinney, TX 75070

·         Rectory Phone: 972/529-2754

·         Email: seraphim@orthodox.net

·         Web Page: http://www.orthodox.net

·         Redeeming the Time Blog: http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime/

 

This homily is at:

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/feasts-of-the-savior-nativity-03_2011-the-wonder-of-the-incarnation+st-gregory-the-theologian-(nazianzen).html

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/feasts-of-the-savior-nativity-03_2011-the-wonder-of-the-incarnation+st-gregory-the-theologian-(nazianzen).doc

 

We are indebted to (then) Deacon Matthew Steenberg for a podcast on this sermon: http://www.monachos.net/content/podcasts/640

 

http://www/.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime

Archive of commentaries: http://www.orthodox.net/scripture

Archive of homilies: http://www.orthodox.net/sermons

 

To receive regular mailings of sermons, and scriptural and services commentary and other things throughout the church year, read our blog “Redeeming the Time” (http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime). You may also subscribe to the RSS Feed or receive its postings by email.

 

Our parish Email list ( http://groups.google.com/group/saint-nicholas-orthodox-church) also has all the latest postings from our website and blog; everyone is welcome to join.

 

All rights reserved.  Please use this material in any edifying reason. We ask that you contact St. Nicholas if you wish to distribute it in any way.  We grant permission to post this text, if completely intact only, including this paragraph and the URL of the text, to any electronic mailing list, church bulletin, web page or blog.

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Nativity of the Savior. The Meaning of Christmas: Abba Father. Audio.

Saturday, January 8th, 2011

feasts-of-the-lord-nativity-02

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Synopsis: During the Advent season, the "Meaning of Christmas" is often referenced, and most of the time, it is far from the truth, and even hackneyed and shallow. This homily does an almost line by line exegesis of the Epistle Read on Nativity and one of the Epistles read the day before, explaining the true meaning of Christmas and why and how we achieve this meaning. This is heavily Christological, but as all true theology is, also quite practical and about things that are ultimately important in life.

Many More homilies on the Nativity are HERE

Galatians 4:4-7 4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. 6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. 7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

Hebrews 2:11-18 11 For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12 Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. 13 And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. 14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 16 For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. 17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. 18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.


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Why A Chinese Buddhist Became an Orthodox Athonite Monk Christ is born! And we are not alone. Nativity 2011

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

Why A Chinese Buddhist Became an Orthodox Athonite Monk

Christ is born! And we are not alone.

The Meaning of Christmas

Nativity of the Savior, 2011

This story, received in an email today [1], on the Eve of Nativity, (Dec 24 2010/ Jan 6 2011) is entirely appropriate for the Nativity season. Because God became man, we are not alone. We have someone Whom we can talk to, Who understand us, and CAN help us, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.  (16)  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb 4:15-16)

This sums up pretty well the meaning of the Incarnation of the Son of God, the meaning of the Nativity of the Savior, the true meaning of Christmas.

 

By Fr. Libyos

On my last trip to Mount Athos I visited the Monastery of Simonopetra. It is a majestic monastery and the sky was fully blue. There I met a graceful novice monk from China. In truth, he surprised me by his presence. An Orthodox rason on a Chinese man? I was moved somewhat. I had never seen this before up close, only in pictures of missions. An inheritor of a great cultural tradition and for him to embrace Christianity? My friends and I got curious to ask him about this.

"Brother, how did you, a Chinese man, embrace Orthodox Christian monasticism coming from such a great cultural tradition? Were you a Buddhist?"

"Yes, of course, I was a Buddhist."

"What won you over to Christianity?"

"Divine companionship!"

"Excuse me?"

"Yes, yes, Father, hahahahaha!", he laughed, since with every three words the Chinese seem to laugh at two. "In Buddhism, my Father, you are very very much alone. There is no God. Your entire struggle is with yourself. You are alone with yourself, with your ego. You are totally alone in this path. Great loneliness Father. But here you have an assistant, a companion and a fellow-traveler in God. You are not alone. You have someone who loves you, who cares about you. He cares even if you don't understand Him. You speak with Him. You tell Him how you feel, what you would have hoped for – there is a relationship. You are not alone in the difficult struggles of life and spiritual perfection.

I realized things in those days. A severe cold bound me to bed. No doctor could find anything wrong with me. The clinical picture was clear, at least the doctors couldn't see anything. The pain was unbearable and there was absolutely no pain killer that could stop it. I changed three different pain killers and still the pain was not alleviated.

At this time I got the news that the brother of my father, whose name I bear, had an advanced form of cancer in the vocal cords and larynx. He had a largyngectomy. It was the result of chronic alcohol consumption and smoking. Generally he lived a bad life, without any quality.

Then I felt something a former Buddhist and now a Christian monk on Mount Athos told me, that you need to have a God you can talk to; to perceive and to feel someone besides yourself Who hears you.

I don't know if it's wrong or right. I only know it is a deep need of man. This is evidenced by life itself. Even these Buddhists, who are from a non-theistic religion, created various deities. Even in dream language and worlds. But they have a need to refer to someone, to something, someone beyond and outside themselves, even if it's dreamy. Besides, reality and truth is something very relevant and will always remain so. It is an enigma, a mystery."

At this I remembered the words of Saint Gregory the Theologian, who had a sensitive and melancholic nature, when he said: "When you are not well, or not feeling so, speak. Speak even if it is to the wind."

 

St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

This article is at:

http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2011-01-06-why-a-chinese-buddhist-became-an-orthodox-athonite-monk-christ-is-born-and-we-are-not-alone-the-meaning-of-christmas.doc

http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2011-01-06-why-a-chinese-buddhist-became-an-orthodox-athonite-monk-christ-is-born-and-we-are-not-alone-the-meaning-of-christmas.html

 

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Use this for any edifying reason, but please give credit, and include the URL of the article. This content belongs to the author. We would love to hear from you with comments! (seraphim@orthodox.net)

 



[1] From an email from Matushka Elizabeth Perdomo, on the “StGeorgesOrthodoxTX” mailing list. She sends out ton of stuff every day, and I sometimes glean from it. St George the Great Martyr Orthodox Church is in Pharr Texas, and hosts an annual Orthodox Winter Service retreat that I recommend (with my words and my “feet”, since I have gone two years in a row)

 

 Subscribe by sending an email to: StGeorgesOrthodoxTX-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.

 

Matushka got this text from a translation by John Sanidopoulos of this Greek language blog post: http://plibyos.blogspot.com/2010/12/blog-post_30.html. The Translation, form John’s excellent blog, is here: http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2011/01/why-chinese-buddhist-became-orthodox.html

 

The icon is from the original blog post. .

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Sunday Of The Holy Fathers, Saint John Of Kronstadt, and The Purpose Of The Incarnation, Ye shall be children of the Highest.

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

St John of KronstadtSynopsis: On this Sunday before Nativity, St John of Kronstadt is also commemorated, and the Gospel for him and his life perfectly describes the purpose of the Incarnation. This Gospel contains our Lord's admonishments to love, using concrete examples, and concludes with the promise "And ye shall be children of the highest". This is the purpose of the incarnation, and examining this Gospel along with St John's life, which struggled to fulfill it illuminates this purpose for us, therefore, on this Sunday when we read the "Begats", it is appropriate to delve into what is means to be children of the highest, and how and why we can attain this high calling. We also suggest another way to describe the "Golden Rule" and what should be our inner motivation for loving our fellow man, and doing anything that is good in this life.

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More homilies on the Nativity (the 2 Sunday's preceding, Nativity, and the Sunday after) are HERE

 

Luke 6:31-36 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. (32) For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. (33) And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. (34) And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. (35) But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. (36) Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.

Lots of photos and ikons of St John, from Google image search

Photos and Ikons of St John from Bing search

 


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Sunday of the Holy Forefathers. The Great Supper; An Invitation to Become, Not to Eat.

Friday, December 31st, 2010

I know that this homily covers last sunday, but I have just finished putting the transcribed version online, even while at a retreat in the Valley and I did not want to waste the fervent labors of Helen, who transcribed it about 3 weeks ago!

Sunday of the Holy Forefathers. Two Sundays before the Nativity of Jesus Christ
The Great Supper; An Invitation to Become, Not to Eat.
Colossians 3:4-11, Luke 14:16-24
2007

 

More Homilies on the Nativity (Sundays before, Nativity, Sundays after) at:

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/index.html#FEASTS_OF_THE_SAVIOR,_NATIVITY

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Today, brothers and sisters, is the Sunday of the Holy Forefathers. It is the first of two Sundays immediately preceding Nativity. We have these special readings.

Today we hear a parable about the great supper, and I submit to you that this supper is not the one that we eat. It is one that we become. If you understand the supper in this way, then you will understand why it is that people didn’t want to come to the supper.

Very few people are willing to turn down a free meal, right? This was not a free meal. This was the way of life that makes us free.

The certain man, of course, is God. And that great supper is our becoming like Him so that we will know Him.

Supper is at the end of the day. I learned this when I came to Dallas. In the South they have this idea of dinner as supper. In the North, dinner and supper are the same meal. But in the South, dinner is the lunch, usually enough lunch to feed an army and then supper later if you can somehow stand to eat it.

Supper is at the end of our life, and it also our total life. So it really means two things. In the end, of course, there will be the table heavy laden, and we will be with Christ. We will know Him, see Him, face-to-face, no longer in a glass darkly, but face-to-face without fear and without shame – If we live our life now in such a way that we will be ready when things are all ready, as the parable says. So the supper is our life. The supper is becoming.

 

Look at the people that did not want to come to the supper, all because they had their own priorities and their own desires.

One says, I’ve got some ground that I just bought, I want to go see it. The fathers speak about that as being possessions that can tie us down.

Another one says, I have five yoke of oxen; I go to prove them. The five yoke are the five senses, and therefore, all of our different desires that we have for pleasure.

 

Another says I have a wife that I just married; I cannot come. That is also our own self desires, our own selfishness for pleasure.

These excuses, in microcosm, describe all of the excuses that we have for not living the Christian life.

 

The supper is not one that we just sit down at. The supper is one that we are becoming.

Saint Paul says today, “When Christ, Who is our life, shall appear, then we shall also appear with Him in glory,” as at the supper. But to appear with Christ in glory means we must obey Him and live as He lives.

It is entirely appropriate that we discuss this parable just before Nativity because, without Christ, we would not have any life. So this calling to the supper, we can only obey this calling with Christ helping us, because Christ became man and lived the life that He wants us to live and made us capable of living that life.

Be careful in your life. Take a look and see what excuses you are giving that you don’t want to come to this supper. Think sometimes, especially in our semi-Christian society, what passes for Christianity is this idea that you go to glory and this glorious thing because you believe in Jesus Christ, without any of the substance of what it takes to be able to be part of this glory.

What it takes is to live as Christ lived.

 

And that is hinted at in the end of the parable or near the very end when the king is very upset because so many people have not come to the supper. And he says to his slaves, “Go out into the streets and lanes of the city quickly … and compel them to come in.”

 

That’s an order, not just to them; it is an order to us. If we are to be part of this supper, then we have to have the mentality of the one who gave it. We should desire to compel others to come into it by the way we live our life. It’s a very powerful word: Compel. It does not abrogate that we have free will to choose whether we’d want to do good or ill. And so does every man.

But if your way of life is such that a person is so attracted to it that they desire to find out and to live it, then you have compelled someone to come into the supper.

When I read this parable, I tremble because I wonder how much I’m compelling people. I’ve dedicated my life to doing it. That’s why I became a priest. I couldn’t see anything else important in life. Everything else dies. Everything else is temporary. The only thing that’s permanent is who we become. The only thing that matters for a person is who he becomes, because in becoming like Christ then you can know Him, then you can be with Him in glory, then you can be unashamed at the end of the age. Otherwise, everything is a loss. That’s all that matters. We should have that mentality, such that people would see it.

Perhaps you haven’t heard of this parable being spoken of in, shall we say, evangelistic terms. But everything we do in our life should be evangelism. Should be such that we are the light on the lamp stand, not underneath the bushel basket. Not what we say, but who we are. The supper is about becoming. This coming to the supper is actually our life.

Yes, there will be a time when we shall sit down with Him, but right now is the time for action. Right now the time is for effort. The time is to say: There is nothing in my way, Lord, from keeping me from coming to Thy supper; I am not going to let any oxen or any land or a wife or any other desires keep me from what is most important, and that is that Thou art my life.

The apostle further talks about, after saying that Christ will appear and we will appear in glory, he gives us the key to how we will appear in glory, and this is basically how we are going to get to the supper. Because there is a traveling period from the time you are bidden to the supper and you get to it. He’s saying, “Mortify your members that are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness.” He says not to lie, not to commit blasphemy, have no filthy communication out of your mouth. He’s saying to live virtuously. So if you want to come to this supper, live virtuously. The calling is from Christ telling us, Live like Me. He’s made us capable of this.

We are about to celebrate His birth. But His birth means nothing if we don’t obey His way of life. His birth doesn’t save us;  accepting His grace and living in it is what saves us. This supper is a calling to virtue. Not just a calling to be with glory in the end. It’s a calling now to change.

 

Look in your life, see what excuses you have. If I’m perfectly honest with myself, I could say each one of these excuses could apply to me in various ways. And certainly, the order to compel others to come in, I tremble when I think what opportunities I have not taken advantage of to compel others to come into the supper.

It’s not just words of a fictional story. Obviously, this occurrence didn’t happen in, shall we say, real life, right? There really wasn’t a person who called people to a supper and then went and had his slaves to find others. It is a picture for us. But in another way it truly is happening. Are we participating in it or are we making excuses?

May God help us to answer the call to be virtuous, the call to live as God lives. What an incredible opportunity, what an incredible privilege it is to live as a Christian! That’s what the Lord is saying in this parable: “Come to Me. Live as I live.“

May God help us to answer this call and also not just to come to the supper because there are a lot of people that are going to come to the supper and be very surprised because they haven’t lived that life. They have tagged along. They have considered themselves to be Christian. But let us be traveling to the supper in such a way that we are also causing others to come to it.

May God help us in all things. Amen.

 

Transcribed by the handmaiden Helen. May God save her and her family.

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 3010.    

 

This and other Orthodox materials are available in from:

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This homily is at:

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The Nativity Fast. Typikon, Why Fast, Pastoral advice. Talk and Outline.

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

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Outline: : http://www.orthodox.net/catechism/orthopraxis_2010-11-28+nativity-fast+fasting-typikon-why-fast.doc

Synopsis: A short talk on the Nativity Fast, on the day the fast began. The Nativity Fast and Great Lent Compared, Nativity Fasting Typikon, Fasting until the Ninth Hour, Why Fast? How does the fast apply to you? (Office parties,Family,The Belly,Prayer,Almsgiving,If you do not fast well). The outline was used in the talk.


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