Archive for the ‘Nativity of the Savior’ Category

NB:The Dayspring from on high – a little about the Nativity Troparion

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Thy Nativity, O Christ our God, *

Hath shined upon the world the light of knowledge; *

for thereby, they that worshipped the stars *

were taught by a star *

to worship Thee, the Sun of Righteousness, *

and to know Thee, the Dayspring from on high. *

O Lord, glory be to Thee. (Nativity Troparion, Tone 4)


Adoration of the Magi, from

“Dayspring” means a rising of light from the East.


The Persian wise men were astrologers. The star of Bethlehem (actually an angel) arose in the East and was seen by them in the West, in Persia (modern day Iran). They had been awaiting the fulfillment of Baalam’s prophesy:


“I will point to him, but not now; I bless him, but he draws not near: a star shall rise out of Jacob, a man shall spring out of Israel; and shall crush the princes of Moab, and shall spoil all the sons of Seth.” (Numbers 24:17 Brenton)


The East is associated with the Lord Jesus Christ, and in His second coming, He will appear from the East.

 Here “light” is referred to four  times, and refers to:

  1. Enlightenment              (“the light of knowledge”)
  2. The star of Bethlehem (“were taught by a star”)
  3. The Lord Jesus Christ  (“the Sun of Righteousness”)
  4. The Lord Jesus Christ  (“the Dayspring from on high”)



It would be entirely appropriate to sing or chant this troparion daily during the festal Nativity season (the Twelve days of Christmas).  If you cannot sing, just ask Jenny or Deacon Nicholas or even me to chant it for you. It is not so hard to learn! The Serbian melody for this troparion is particularly beautiful and easy to sing.


For a catechetical audio discussion on the Nativity Troparion and Kontakion, go here:,-troparion-and-kontakion.mp3


Christ is born to raise up the image that fell of old!

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Once Mary, pregnant with a seedless pregnancy, / was registered in Bethlehem with the elder Joseph, / as being of the seed of David. / And while they were there, / the days were accomplished that she should be delivered, / but there was no room for them in the inn. / But the cave showed itself to be a beauteous palace for the Queen, / and Christ is born //to raise up the image that fell of old!
Troparion of the Forefeast, sung in the Royal Hours for Nativity.

The beautiful troparion of the Forefeast of Nativity sums up succinctly the purpose of the incarnation of the God-Man, Jesus Christ. One may say, it contains in full our “theology of redemption”. Jesus Christ became man so that our image, which “fell of old” due to the sin of Adam and Eve, and the subsequent weakening of the human race might be “raised”.

He did not come to “purchase” our forgiveness by dying on the cross1 His primary mission was not just to obtain forgiveness for us!

If all Christ’s mission accomplished for us was that our sins are forgiven, we are truly to be lamented, because we will never be able to change. We would still be sinners, with our tempestuous passions, even if we be pardoned every day. What good is that?

We were made in the image of God – Who is perfectly holy, perfectly free, perfectly at peace. Our sins obscure this image, and make it less effectual in our lives, just as dirt makes pure water cloudy. The water retains all its properties, even though because of the pollution it is unfit to drink.

The “dirt” in our soul that obscures the image of God is our sins, our passions, and in general, our weakened human condition.

“Raising up the image that fell of old” is like filtering the water, and removing that which is foreign to it.

Can God’s grace raise up His image in us, obscured by sin and passions, merely by forgiveness? Absolutely not. Forgiveness does not remove sinfulness; it does not strengthen the human condition.

 Christ “raised up the image” (of God) in us precisely by showing us how to live, and enabling us to live in this way. His ministry was one of knowledge and power. His way of life and teachings shows us the only way to live, and by His power, upon resurrecting His human soul, he gave us the ability. The raising up of the image is performed by each of us, with struggle, always with the grace of God helping us.

If we truly understand what the “Image of God” is then the need to labor to raise up this image will be plainly apparent.

The image of God reflects His nature – God is love, and He is pure, holy, full of knowledge, free. How can these things be understood if they are not lived?

Purity cannot be given to the impure as one might give some sort of material gift. To understand purity, one must become pure – not just be forgiven sins, but by labor and God’s grace obliterate impurity in the soul. To understand love, one must love: not as the world loves, but as God loves. To know God, we must become like God. Only then will the image of God that fell of old within us be raised.


Because of the incarnation, teaching and resurrection of the God-man, Jesus Christ, we have been given everything we need to “raise up the image that fell of old”. Let us then, “get up from our bed and walk!”

1this is the so called “substitutionary atonement" taught by most Protestants ans Roman catholics, and alas, believed by some Orthodox who do not understand their own faith. This doctrine states that Jesus appeased His Father’s wrath by offering Himself as a perfect sacrifice. In essence, this doctrine states that God would NOT forgive us unless we killed His son!


Changed from a previous post, at

NB: Interpreting the Nativity Icon.

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

Nativity of the Savior from Iviron Monastery.


Ikons are not only “Windows to Heaven” – they also tell a story, if one understands the symbolism. A few things about the Nativity Ikon:



The Christ child is shown wrapped in a burial shroud from head to toe – NOT swaddling clothes! This reminds us that He was born in order to die for us.


In the lower left corner, Joseph is sometimes shown. He is being tempted by the Devil concerning Mary’s pregnancy:

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.  (19)  Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.”   (Mat 1:18-19)


An entire homily recently given (audio) was based mostly on this event




“NB” is shorthand for “nota bene” ,which is Latin for “Note well”. These shorter posts are meant to be “noted well” more often because they are briefer than the usual blog posts. I have “noted well”  that many of my flock does do not read the longer posts. I have a lot of stuff to tell you, so there will still be longer posts, but I also plan to post shorter “snippets” which will have “NB:” in the title.



Many Homilies on the Holy Fathers – Sunday before Nativity.

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Unfortunately, I do not have any transcribed homilies for the Sunday before Nativity or Nativity itself, but there are many audio ones.

Here are the links:

·  Sunday before the Nativity of Jesus Christ (mp3 format)

Sunday Of The Holy Fathers

·  Sunday before the Nativity of Jesus Christ (mp3 format)

Sunday Of The Holy Fathers
Two Geneologies
Matthew 1:1-25, Hebrews 11:9-10,17-23,32-40

·  Sunday before the Nativity of Jesus Christ (mp3 format)

Vespers On The Eve Of Nativity
And The Wolf Shall Lie Down With The Lamb
Isaiah 11:1-10

·  Sunday before the Nativity of Jesus Christ (mp3 format)

Sunday Of The Holy Fathers
Matthew 1:1-25

·  Sunday before the Nativity of Jesus Christ (mp3 format)

Sunday Of The Holy Fathers
A Life Parable In The Kindness Of Joseph
Matthew 1-1-25

·  Nativity of Jesus Christ (mp3 format)


·  Nativity of Jesus Christ (mp3 format)


·  Nativity of Jesus Christ (mp3 format)

The Real Christmas Story
Galations 4:4-7

·  Nativity of Jesus Christ (mp3 format)

The whole meaning of Christmas is in today's epistle
Galatians 4:4-7

·  Nativity of Jesus Christ (mp3 format)