Beloved, this is such a joyous time – the promise of the Prophets are being fulfilled before us, “this is God’s doing and it is marvellous in our eyes”.

We are filled with a sense of growing anticipation. The upcoming services help us to prepare. Saturday evening Vespers will greatly anticipate the coming of the Redeemer and we will hear hymns such as these:

Let us celebrate, O ye people, the Prefestival of the Nativity of Christ, and raising our minds on high, let us go in spirit to Bethlehem; and with the thoughts of our soul let us behold the Virgin, as she hasteneth to the cave to give birth to our God, the Lord of all. Joseph, when he beheld the greatness of these wonders, thought that he saw a man wrapped as a babe in swaddling clothes; but from the very deed he perceived that it was the true God, Who granteth great mercy unto our souls.

Hearken, O Heaven, and give ear, O earth; for behold, the Son and Word of God the Father cometh forth to be born of a Maiden who hath not known wedlock, by the good pleasure of the Father Who begat Him without passion, and by the co-operation of the Holy Spirit. Make ready, O Bethlehem; open thy gate, O Eden. For He Who Is becometh that which He was not; and the Fashioner of all creation taketh form, even He that granteth the world great mercy.

And further…

O house of Ephratha,  thou great and holy city,  thou glory of the prophets,  make ready the place wherein the Most Divine One shall be born.

In Matins, the odes of the canon remind us of the indescribable, the unfathomable condescension for God to dwell in a maiden’s womb. He Whom the heavens cannot contain dwells in the womb of a virgin.

From the Eight Ode:

The ineffable condescension of the Word of God, whereby Christ is known as the God-man, Who thought it not robbery to be called God, cometh in the form of a servant, which He received from a pure Maiden, the child of God.

Christ doth willingly come forth to minister, and the Fashioner, Who is rich in His Divinity, now assumeth the likeness of impoverished Adam, granting unto him a strange refashioning and rebirth, since He is compassionate.

Lo, the time of our salvation is at hand. Make ready, O cave; the Virgin draweth nigh to give birth. Be glad and rejoice, O Bethlehem, land of Judah, for from thee our Lord hath shone forth as the dawn. Hearken, ye mountains and hills and all ye lands round about Judea; for Christ cometh that He may save man whom He fashioned, since He is the Friend of man.

And finally, we depart filled with cheer and good will:

Make ready, Bethlehem, for Eden hath been opened unto all. Ephratha, prepare thyself for behold within the cave the Tree of life hath blossomed from the holy Virgin. For her womb hath proved to be a spiritual paradise wherefrom there came the Divine Fruit, eating thereof we shall live and not die like Adam. Christ is born to raise the image that fell in days of old.

May these word ever resound in our hearts! Christ is born to save the image which had fallen aforetime.

Hymns adapted from the Menaion, Copyright © Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Brookline, Massachusetts, used by permission. All rights reserved.

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