Христос Раждається! Славім Його! – Christ is born! Glorify Him!
“Today Christ is born of the Virgin in Bethlehem. Today the eternal One has a beginning; today the Word becomes incarnate. All the heavenly powers rejoice, and all who dwell on earth are happy. The magi offer gifts to the Master; the shepherds proclaim the marvel; and we cry aloud unceasingly: Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace and good will to all” (Aposticha from the Christmas matins)
OPEN YOURSELVES TO HOLINESS AND BLESSINGS OF RIZDVO CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR!
Rizdvo – Christmas it seems, is turning into a sort of commercial venture and of feelings of nice sentimentalities (which are good in themselves) whilst discarding the meaning and significance of the Incarnation – Christ, our maker, our creator, God is with us.
- Bishop Peter: Ukrainian Christmas is different!
- Christmas Pastoral Letter Of His Beatitude Sviatoslav
- Dr. Kania: The Incarnation (cf. John 3: 16, RSV)
Whilst it is tempting to reflect on ‘why is it so’, I feel it will be better to reflect a little on something that may be associated – and that is on baby Jesus – who is He.
It may be, that there could be broad misunderstanding, under appreciation and non-acceptance of who He is, that is turning Christmas into and how it is celebrated today by the majority where there is no Christ in Christmas.
The Aposticha above gives us some initial insights with the introductory words –
“Today Christ is born of the Virgin in Bethlehem.
Today the eternal One has a beginning; today the Word becomes incarnate”.
The Eternal One, Christ, the Word, the Logos, has a beginning in the sense that He took upon Himself our humanity becoming incarnate, that is, taking our bodily form and nature.
Thus Christ in Jesus is both divine and human in nature.
This baby Jesus is both Divine and Human at the same time.
This is astounding – but who wants to listen and accept this – we have our minds made up, it is not logical to common sense and there are too many cares that pre-occupy us.
From the beginnings of the Church that Christ God established, there were many misunderstandings about the nature of Jesus Christ. Not so much His teachings, but His nature and who He is.
This lead to many heresies (which are still intact to this day). It took many centuries to resolve the issue of the nature of Jesus Christ and who He is.
The Council of Nicea in 325 AD., resolved the heresy that denied the Divinity of Jesus Christ. The Council proclaimed that the Son of God, Jesus Christ is homo-ousios (“one in being” or “consubstantial) with the Father, that is, that he himself is God, is eternal, and hence there was never a time when he was not.
Christ, the second person of the Trinity, who became man, is of one and the same substance, or essence, or nature as God the Father.
The Council issued their decree, the Nicene Creed, precisely to insist on the three Persons in one substance in the Trinity and on the divinity of Christ.
It is important to understand that at every Divine Holy Liturgy/Mass we are expressing and saying in the Nicene Creed prayer “NO … NO … NO” to the various past and still existing heresies to this day.
Today, nothing is more common, even among some who consider themselves Christians, who hold that Christ was not really Divine: He was just a good man, a great moral teacher, a model to follow; perhaps he even represented the highest ideal for mankind. It goes against common sense reason that a human could be God.
Here is the Nicene Creed which we pray that condemns various heresies and also expresses who Jesus Christ is –
I believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.
I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
he suffered death and was buried,
and rose again on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father (and the Son),
who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins
and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the world to come. Amen.
Note that the first two section explain who the Father and the Son are.
When one grasps the significance of the Nicene Creed and what we are saying and expressing in praying this prayer, it should lead us to awe when we consider the meaning of Christmas/Rizdvo.
Baby Jesus is no everyday baby.
Rizdvo – Christmas is the great celebration of God becoming Incarnate, the Word born in flesh that we accept as being of great worth, that we worship – the one and only true God.
“God is with us! Understand all you nations. Humble yourselves, as God is with us!”
З нами Бог розумійте народи, покоряйтеся, бо з нами Бог!
Христос Раждається! Славім Його! – Christ is born! Glorify Him!
I also would like to reflect on the year 2020 that has had some dark hours which were unusual in the form of the pandemic that lead us by necessity to seek comfort by praying at home instead of in company at church.
It is not the same as praying at church and missing the physical presence of the sacraments. Praying in front of a screen might have been good, but it is only temporary.
It is time to come back together again, in a way which is safe and in compliance of regulations. We need the strenght of our church community, our greater family and friends. We need each other to get back to normal life.
As we look at Sacred Scriptures, we notice that the early Christians gathered to hear the word of God, to receive Holy Eucharist, to share meals together and to give thanks.
They understood that Jesus Christ was in their midst in the gathering of the church community.
It is time to do this again in our parish, to come back to praise God, to support each other, to build community and shape our future.
We need each other.
Fr. Paul Berezniuk.
PS – some parts were sourced from