Troparion Tone 4
Your Nativity, O Virgin, has proclaimed joy to the whole universe! The Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God, has shone from You, O Theotokos! By annulling the curse, He bestowed a blessing. By destroying death, He has granted us eternal Life
Reading from the Gospel of Luke
The grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age, as we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of our great God, and savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to deliver us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for himself a people as his own, eager to do what is good
~Chapter: 2, Verses: 10 and 11
Reading from the Book of Hebrews
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high: Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.
~Chapter; 1, Verses: 1 to 6
Reading from the Gospel of Luke
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger because there was no guest room available for them.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
~Chapter: 2, Verses: 1 to 20
Rejoice, for he is born! Today we celebrate the birth of our Lord. It is a time for the celebration of body and soul as the world is made new again. Each liturgical cycle we have a chance to relive the birth and death not only of Christ but of the entire world both natural and spiritual. Here at this moment, all things are new, every trial and tribulation has a chance to be reset and the year to begin afresh. The joy of Christmas found in the nativity is that gift of hope only renewal can bring.
Hope can be small, tender, and as precious as a newborn child. It can and will be found in the darkest and most unlikely places. We see this in the birth of our Lord in a humble manger. No one had time or room for compassion for a woman in labor in the whole town was full of people, Mary labored and delivered in a humble place more fit for animals than people, but here Christ came and was recognized by the heavens and 3 magi, as well as those tending the fields and flocks. Hope came where none had seemed possible.
We must live this time of year bathed in that same hope, no matter our circumstances. It is now we can connect with the small and large miracles through prayer. We can be the givers of hope in small ways to those around us by sharing what resources and compassion we have. We must make room in our hearts and lives for the hope that can and does come now. May the joy, hope, and renewal of Christmas find each and all of us.