Monday, January 6, 2014

The Condescension of God 
and the Deification of Man

Those of us who observe the Julian Calendar are now about to complete the Nativity Fast, where we have abstained from meat, eggs, dairy products, anger, envy and other habits, for the sake of promoting the discipline the soul. We are now joining hundreds of millions of Orthodox Christians around the world, in celebrating the Birth of Our Saviour.

We Orthodox Christians on the Julian Calendar will be celebrating the birth of Jesus, the incarnation of God on Earth. And this celebration of the Nativity of Christ will mark the spiritual upheaval of the universe, for this solemn day marks the embodiment of God on Earth, and the day God became flesh in Jesus, and, potentially, in all creatures.

The celebration of the Nativity of Christ is as important for our salvation as Pascha, for the compassion revealed in the Nativity is but a precursor to the gift this compassionate God incarnate has for us. That which began with the incarnation of God taking on our flesh in order to unite Himself to His creation, will culminate with the bodily resurrection. The Nativity provides all of us with the possibility of divine redemption, for it is in the Holy Nativity that God reveals His love for us, in His great condescension to become like us.

This celebration of the birth of Jesus is not about the commemoration of a helpless baby given birth in a stable, nor is this about a sort of magic baby discovered by the Wise Men. The birth of Christ is not about a Jesus who died on the cross to “atone” for the sins of all humanity, as a sacrifice to pacify an angry God. The celebration of the Nativity of Christ is not about the concept of original sin, that all humans are born inherently corrupt. The Nativity is about the essential goodness of humans, who have been created in the image and likeness of our Creator.

The messages of both the Nativity and the crucifixion is that we are most human, most like God, when we respond to the suffering of others. Our Orthodox theology about the Nativity, is about the “co-suffering love of God.” The Nativity of Christ is about the God who created the world becoming incarnate, while the foundations of the Earth are shaken. The Nativity of Christ is about Theosis, whereby we are deified, and by His grace, share in His Divinity, just as He has joined Himself with our humanity.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Monday January 6, 2014 / December 24, 2013
29th Week after Pentecost. Tone three.
Fast. Food with Oil

The Eve of the Nativity of Christ (Rozhdestvenskyi Sochelnik).
Nun-martyr Eugenia of Rome, and with her Martyrs Philip her father, Protus, Hyacinth (Jacinth), Basilla, and Claudia (262).
New Hieromartyr Innocentius (1928).
New Hieromartyr Sergius priest (1942).
Venerable Nicholas the Monk of Bulgaria (9th c.).
Venerable Antioch, monk of Palestine (635), and St. Vitimionus of Scete.
New Martyr Achmed (Ahmet) the Calligrapher (or Architect) of Constantinople (1682) (Greek).
Venerable Aphrodisius, monk of Palestine (6th c.).

You can read the life of the saint by clicking on the highlighted name.

THANKS to all of you who have been able to contribute towards the support of the monastery. These difficult times of economic hardship have impacted the monastery, and those of you who have been able to donate, have been our lifeline. May God bless you for your generosity, and kindness.
With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Donations can be made directly to the monastery through PayPal, or you may send donations to:

All-Merciful Saviour Monastery
PO Box 2420
Vashon Island, WA 98070-2420 USA

The Scripture Readings for the Day

Hebrews 1:1-12

God’s Supreme Revelation

1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

The Son Exalted Above Angels

For to which of the angels did He ever say:
“You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You”?
And again:
“I will be to Him a Father, And He shall be to Me a Son”?
But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says:

“Let all the angels of God worship Him.”
And of the angels He says:

“Who makes His angels spirits
And His ministers a flame of fire.”
But to the Son He says:

“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;
A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.
You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness;
Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You
With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.”
10 And:
“You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth,
And the heavens are the work of Your hands.
11 They will perish, but You remain;
And they will all grow old like a garment;
12 Like a cloak You will fold them up,
And they will be changed.
But You are the same,
And Your years will not fail.”

Luke 2:1-20

Christ Born of Mary

2 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.
Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Glory in the Highest

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

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