On the Nativity of the Lord

When we celebrate the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, we celebrate not only His coming in the flesh 2000 years ago, we celebrate His coming to us – to be born in Him as He is born in us. Having taken on our humanity, we take on His Divinity. Having taken on our flesh, we take on His Godhead – by Grace. He came and became what we are, in order that He might make us what He is. He came in obscurity, in poverty, so that He might identify with our poverty. He became one of us, exactly as we are, so that He might make us as He is, and share His Glory, the Glory of the Only-Begotten of the Father Who is our Life, our Hope, the very reality of what we are and who we are. This is what it means to be a Christian – that our life is hidden with Christ in God. He is our true Life. He is the goal of our life. He is the substance of our life. “What an enormous Feast of Grace the Nativity is. It truly is the Winter Pascha. It is the very feast of our being reborn in God. It is the feast of our experiencing the Kingdom of Heaven here and now, and of our being born into Heaven.

-His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah, then-reigning Primate of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), January 1, 2012 at the Russian Orthodox (ROCOR) Cathedral of St John the Baptist in Washington, DC where he presided over the Divine Liturgy as the first OCA Primate to do so in a ROCOR church.

Metropolitan Jonah January 1 2012

His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah presiding over Divine Liturgy at the ROCOR cathedral of St John the Baptist in Washington DC on January 1, 2012. He was the first OCA hierarch to celebrate Liturgy at a ROCOR church with the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion (Kapral), First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad.

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The Great Feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos Into the Temple

Video

Today, December 4 N.S. (November 21 on the Julian calendar) marks the celebration of the Great Feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple at Jerusalem.

According to Church Tradition (found in the writings of many of the early Fathers such as St. Gregory of Nyssa and Patriarch St. Germanus of Constantinople, as well as in the Protoevangelion of James), this feast day commemorates the occasion when the pious, elderly parents of the Virgin Mary, Sts. Joachim and Anna, fulfilled their vow to the Lord and entrusted their miracle daughter to the care of the Temple high priest Zaccharias, who later became the father of St. John the Baptist.

On this day, one year ago, His Beatitude Metropolitan +Jonah, then serving as the primate of the Orthodox Church in America, received me into the Orthodox Church by chrismation and the laying on of hands at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

My Chrismation 5 (2)

My family was really kind and supportive, driving down from Long Island to witness the ceremony. This meant so much to me!

My family was so kind and supportive, driving down from Long Island to witness the ceremony. Their presence meant so much to me!

My chrismation took place on Sunday, December 4, 2011 at St Nicholas Cathedral in Washington.

My chrismation took place on Sunday, December 4, 2011 (November 21 Julian calendar)

This Great Feast is one of the most ancient and joyous of the Church, as this detailed article and this one both explain.

Entrance of the Theotokos icon

Here is the beautiful choral Troparion (tone IV) for the feast sung by Archangel Voices:

Today is the preview of the good will of God,
Of the preaching of the salvation of mankind.
The Virgin appears in the Temple of God,
In anticipation proclaiming Christ to all.
Let us rejoice and sing to her: Rejoice,
O Divine Fulfillment of the Creator’s dispensation!