Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Forefeast of the Nativity

Today, December 20, is the Forefeast of the Nativity of Christ. I can never tire of the apolytikon that accompanies this day. If you want to hear it sung, in English unfortunately, you can go to my post from two years ago complete with a youtube video.

Make ready, O Bethlehem! For Eden has been opened for all.
Prepare, O Ephratha, for the tree of life has blossomed forth in the cave from the Virgin.
For her womb did appear as a super-sensual paradise.
In which is planted, that holy vine.
Whereof eating, we shall live and not die as Adam of old.
Christ shall be born raising the image that fell of old.

This is the message of Christmas. There is a new Adam. There is a restored image of God. It is the restored image of the Image Himself, God's Son and Word, Jesus Christ. In Him humankind has found its fulfillment and perfection. In Him human beings can live. In Him all people can compete themselves as creatures made to be by God's grace that God Himself is by nature. In Him all people can be human.--Fr. Thomas Hopko, The Winter Pascha, p. 84

Man ate the forbidden fruit. The fruit of that one tree, whatever else it may signify, was unlike any other fruit in the Garden: it was not offered as a gift to man. Not given, not blessed by God, it was food whose eating was condemned to be communion with itself alone, and not with God. it s the image of the world loved for itself, and eating it is the image of life understood as an end in itself.--Fr. Alexander Schmemann, For the Life of the World, p.16 (qtd in Hopko's Winter Pascha, p. 87)

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