“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.” (Gen 1: 1-5)
Lent (re)-introduces us to the “basics” of our faith, like a catechetical program. So today, as those of us on the Orthodox church-calendar begin Lent, at Vespers we have this reading from the very beginning of the Bible. It takes us back to the very beginning of our “common story,” when God first created somethin...
“O Christ what shall we offer You;
for our sake You appeared on earth as man?
Every creature made by You offers thanks to You.
The angels offer You a hymn; the heavens, a star;
the Magi, gifts; the shepherds, their wonder;
the earth, its cave; the wilderness, the manger:
and we offer You a Virgin Mother.
O pre-eternal God, have mercy on us.”
(Great Vespers, Nativity in the Flesh of Our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ)
Finally, those of us on the Older Calendar are entering into the great feast of the birth, according to the flesh, (not the pre-eternal birth, of the Father), of our Saviour in Bethlehem. What do “we” offer Him on this occasion? We offer Him one of us, – a human, Virgin Mother, who gives birth to Him in the flesh. In Her we offer Christ ourselves, as human birth-givers to th...
“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days. Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has brought forth; then the rest of his brethren shall return to the people of Israel. And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth.” (Micah 5: 2-4)
This passage from the Book of Micah, who prophesied from ca. 737 to 696 BC, is read in our churches at Vespers of Christmas Eve. It points to the “coming forth” from Bethlehem of a “ruler”; and to a certain “she” being “in labor” and “...