Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Winter Pascha

I'm in Omaha right now for a few days taking care of some business that will hopefully allow me to come back next month to finish out a class at Creighton and start to really get my life in order. Right now, I'm snowed in. My friends, Josh and Walker, with whom I am staying have both gone to work though the local schools are all canceled due to the inclement weather. It is expected to snow throughout the day even into the hours of tomorrow morning. Snow accumulations should be about 6 inches or more.

We instinctively tie our Lord's Nativity with winter. And that is because of the fact that in Europe and America, snow sometimes accompanies our Lord's arrival as the Christmas songs which deal with "White Christmases." But, when Christ was born, there was no snow, there was no cold weather. Shepherds did not tend their flocks in frigid snowy weather. Most likely, Christ was actually born in September or October. The reason that December 25 was chosen as the day to celebrate Christ's incarnation was because the pagans celebrated the birth of Mithras, the Sun God (a Persian import to Rome) on that day. That is why, in the Eastern Rite Troparion for Nativity, we call Christ the Sun of Righteousness, which, in English translation (the Greek word is helios), has double meaning implications.

In Great Lent, we are coming out of the winter tumult, the winter death to the spring of Christ's Resurrection, which is usually sometime in April (though on the Western Calendar can be as early as March). We prepare for that glorious time with fasting, prayer and almsgiving. Why should we do no different in this time of our Lord's incarnation. If he had not been incarnate, our Lord could not have died and risen again to triumph over death and heal us from our infirmities.

Thus, we should be mindful that though winter conjures up thoughts (good ones, mind you) of frolicking in the snow, going out to the mall to buy gifts for friends, loved ones and those in need, we should not make this season a party. Don't get me wrong, it's hard to do when hardly anyone else believes that this is a season of repentance, but if we wait for everyone else to get on board, all we have done is squandered precious time for our own self-repentance.

Christ's coming in the midst of winter is another Pascha, a resurrection of Creation, of the Sun which is never overtaken by the night.

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