Our celebration of the birth of Christ has a very deep cultural and spiritual meaning.
Our Ukrainian culture and life is defined by our spiritual celebration of the birth of Christ in Bethlehem 2000 years ago. The symbolism and the spirituality of this event has so completely formed our culture that you cannot separate our Christian culture from our existence as Ukrainians. To be Ukrainian, means to unite with the events we read in the Sacred scripture. The birth of Christ tells me who I am. It is part of my identity. The carols, the food, the Christmas scene at the birth of Christ is what we all need and come back to. Everybody wants to come back home for Christmas. To be with family, to celebrate, to pray. Even in our secular world, we all associate Christmas with Church. It is who we are. It is what we do. God is also my home, one which I need to come back to.
There are two births of Christ on Christmas day. This spiritual truth explains why this holiday has shaped our culture so much.
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The first birth is the one we read about in the bible. Jesus comes into the world in Bethlehem. His mother is Mary. This is a historical birth. Our Saviour is born.
God Himself enters into the world as a child, in fulfilment of a promise He made. He comes into the world to tell us how much He loves us. His name is “Emmanuel”, which means “God is with us”.
The second birth at Christmas is a more personal one. It also has a deep spiritual meaning. Jesus is born into my soul. My soul is a Bethlehem, a second Bethlehem. His birth in us makes us reborn spiritually.
Through the Holy mysteries of Baptism, Chrismation, and the Holy Eucharist, we become icons of Christ. Jesus is born in us and lives in us.
At Christmas, the word of God becomes a person, so that we can become communicants of the Divine nature.
Christ is born in us that we can be fulfilled with light. This is what we pray for at the Divine Liturgy before we receive Holy Communion, and what we pray for at Christmas.
These are very beautiful thoughts. They are true because God says that they are true. Jesus is different. He is the Son of God. He walks on water, feeds the five thousand, is born of a Virgin, raises others from the dead, and Himself is raised from the dead.
Faith in God is born within us. This faith tells us that our lives have a real value and meaning.
The world as we know it is full of problems, conflicts, and suffering. Christmas tells us that these problems are not our final destiny.
Life has its meaning in God. We are united because all men and women share the dignity of being children of God.
Christmas tells me that in the midst of all my errors, mediocrity, my sins, and weakness, I am forgiven and accepted by God who sent His only son, who is born into very poor circumstance, to be one of us.
When I believe, I see evil in a new light. While I am not freed from suffering, I can live a good life without destroying myself.
While I might not do great things, I am an icon of God Himself and I can use the power within me to share the peace and joy to help others.
My heart and soul within which Christ is born, yearns for God. This journey back to God gives me satisfaction, which is part of the joy of Christmas.