Christmas Eve Liturgy, December 24 at 6:30pm
Mark your calendar. On Christmas we will hold a Nativity Liturgy starting at 6:30pm at the Holiday Inn.
Following the Liturgy we will have refreshments, sing some Christmas carols and enjoy some healthy fellowship (like we always do!).
The coming of Christ into the world was a profoundly human event. By this term I mean that Jesus, by becoming man, reaches deep into the innermost reaches of our own humanity — the places where we hope, despair, ponder, love, experience sorrow and joy, where all the constituents that make us human have their source and origin and give life its purpose and meaning.
Salvation then is a profoundly personal enterprise, one that will lead to an ever deepening communion with God should we choose to embrace the salvation that He offers. It portends transformation, a new life where “old things pass away and all things become new.”
There can be no salvation unless God Himself became man. Anything other than the possibility of inner transformation would necessarily be the imposition of structures from the outside — a social program or plan that would invariably violate the dignity and freedom of man and thus negate the purposes for which man was created.
God created us to be free, but that freedom is actualized — concretely and properly expressed — in obedience to the two great commandments: 1) Love God with all you heart, soul, body, mind and strength; and 2) Love your neighbor as yourself. This inward orientation where one seeks God by acting in truth towards the neighbor preserves freedom because it allows God to act, and affirms the dignity of the person you encounter because you treat him with the respect he deserves.
Humility is a key virtue in this very Christian awareness of God and man. Christ, in consenting to become man, elevates humanity. It show man who and what he was created for. Again, anything short of this would rise no higher than a set of ideas or social program. Instead, the humility of Christ opens the door for the transformation of the old man into the new man of Christ.
Nothing is more profound in this world than love of the neighbor, and love means dealing with the neighbor in truth. That love transforms the world, because it is the means by which the neighbor is elevated to God and how the world will be saved. On the last day we will be asked, did you feed the hungry, clothe the naked, comfort the broken-hearted, and all the other necessary things that bring light and healing into the world.
This should be our self-awareness as Christians and if it is, Christ will reveal Himself to us.
Nativity Scripture Readings
Let all the earth worship Thee, and sing to Thee.
Shout with joy to God, all the earth.
The reading from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Galatians. (4:4-7)
Brethren, when the time had fully come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, to redeem those who were under the L aw, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Therefore, you are no longer a slave but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
The reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew. (2:1-12)
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in th e days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “ Where is He who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East, and have come to worship Him.”
When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them wher e the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it is written by the prophet: ‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judea, are by no means least among the rulers of Judea; for from you shall come a ruler who will govern My people Israel.’”
Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star appeared; and he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found Him bring me word, that I too may come and worship Him.” When they had heard the king they went their way; and lo, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, until it came to rest over the place where the child was.
When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; and going into the house they saw the child with Mary His mother, and they fell down and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered Him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.