Detail of Icon with the Theotokos Virgin Mary holding our Lord Jesus Christ – Greece 2017
Christ is Born!
Happy 4th Day of Nativity today!
I love this short, sweet, and sublime 5th century Nativity Kontakion (Hymn) by St. Romanus the Melodist. This a cappella recording was sung by our parish in 2014.
The Kontakion of the Nativity bursts with the Numinous Essence of the Feast!
Today a Virgin bringeth forth the Supersubstantial, and earth offereth a cavern to the Unapproachable. Angels together with shepherds sing praises, the Wise Men journey on with the Star. For, for our sakes, God, Who is before all the ages, is born a little Child. ~ Nativity Kontakion by St. Romanus the Melodist (5th century)
A Tour Inside the Ancient Church of the Nativity, in Bethlehem, built over where Jesus Christ was born.
With heartfelt support for Ukraine and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church during these turbulent times, painted rocks with Slava Ukraini (Glory to Ukraine), adorn a Canadian Orthodox Church garden.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. ~ St. Matthew 5:9
Let us pray to the Lord… Stop the war that destroys lives and homes, give repentance to the oppressors, comfort the afflicted, guide the wandering, and plant peace and blessing in the hearts of Your servants. For the uprooting of hatred, enmity, and the desire for domination from the hearts of those who oppress the innocent, to bring among them unfeigned love, understanding, and peaceful co-existence, and put an end to war, disturbance, and human suffering, let us pray to the Lord. That He may deliver the oppressed from distress by the onslaught of armies, and turn the oppressors from evil and lead them to peace and love, that no one may perish, and that peace may reign on earth, unto the joy of His Church and people, let us pray to the Lord. Lord Jesus Christ, our God, who art the Source of life and peace in heaven and on earth, pour out the grace of your peace on a world troubled by war and hatred. Extinguish the differences and enmity between humans and pour into the hearts of all humility, peace, and goodness… Let us pray to the Lord. ~ Special Petitions for Peace; Romanian Orthodox Church
Today we commemorate the 14,000 Infants slain by Herod at Bethlehem, and its surroundings. The relics of these little saints rest in the Grotto of the 4th Century Church of the Nativity, in Bethlehem.
It was shocking to hear and understand the “Christmas” Coventry Carol for first time, when I was but a child.
Why on earth would people want to sing this, when all the other Christmas carols were warm, cozy, pockets of peace and joy? “Why? It’s ugly! Terrible!”
Mom agreed. “It is. But, they’re in heaven now, and we sing to remember this waspart of what happened at Jesus’ birth.”
Even as an older youth it was painful to ponder, and still is… especially hearing the Carol now, with a grandmother’s ear. It’s a lullaby of lament… a dissonant dirge of restrained anguish. How could it not be?
Although there is great beauty in the world, this is also a world with warts and all. Earth isn’t heaven, and that’s why Christ is born… to reunite the created with the Creator.
The Coventry Carol was also my godmother’s favourite Christmas piece. She was an exceptional, amazing woman, Memory Eternal Eve! Through her, I learned to embrace the deep significance and bright sadness of this carol.
Below is a recording from a public Nativity Concert in 2014, at St. Sophia Orthodox Church, Canada.
St. Matthew 2: 16 – 18 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 inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, 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.
St. Matthew 2: 13-14 …describes how St. Joseph was warned in a dream by an angel to flee Bethlehem and go to Egypt.
I came across this moving YouTube Video Tour: Grotto of the Holy Innocents at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
The doves in Bethlehem murmured since the serpent destroyed their offspring. The eagle fled to Egypt to go down to receive the promises. ~ St. Ephraim the Syrian