Bethlehem, the City of David, lies before us. With anxious enthusiasm we draw ever so closer to that place of our desire, to sit with the Shepherds as they worship along side the manger in the cave, offered by the Earth for a refuge for her Creator:
To the Unapproachable the Earth doth offer a small cave
How fitting, the Lamb of God should be born in the place used as a shelter for the newborn and yearling lambs. He Who shall take away the sin of the world is wrapped in swaddling bands, from His birth already foretelling the great Mystery for which He was sent into the world.
Our hearts yearn to hear the angelic voices singing glory to our God and wishing to all men, peace and goodwill. Let us follow with the shepherds in the deep of night to behold the Daystar and Son of Righteousness.
Behold the words of a luminary of our very age…
The Nativity of Our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ
But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son (Galatians 4:4) to save the human race. And when nine months were fulfilled from the Annunciation, when the Archangel Gabriel had appeared to the Most-holy Virgin in Nazareth, saying, Rejoice, thou that art highly favored … behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a Son (Luke 1:28, 31), at that time there went forth a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the people of the Roman Empire should be taxed.
In accordance with this decree, everyone had to go to his own town and be registered. That is why the righteous Joseph came with the Most-holy Virgin to Bethlehem, the city of David, for they were both of the royal lineage of David.
Since many people descended on this small town for the census, Joseph and Mary were unable to find lodging in any house, and they sought shelter in a cave which shepherds used as a sheepfold. In this cave – on the night between Saturday and Sunday, on the 25th of December- the Most holy Virgin gave birth to the Savior of the world, the Lord Jesus Christ. Giving birth to Him without pain just as He was conceived without sin by the Holy Spirit and not by man, she herself wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, worshiped Him as God, and laid Him in a manger. Then the righteous Joseph drew near and worshiped Him as the Divine Fruit of the Virgin’s womb. Then the shepherds came in from the fields, directed by an angel of God, and worshiped Him as the Messiah and Savior.
The shepherds heard a multitude of God’s angels singing: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men (Luke 2:14). At that time three wise men arrived from the east, led by a wondrous star, bearing their gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh. They worshiped Him as the King of kings, and offered Him their gifts (Matthew 2).
Thus entered the world He Whose coming was foretold by the prophets, and Who was born in the same manner in which it had been prophesied: of a Most-holy Virgin, in the town of Bethlehem, of the lineage of David according to the flesh, at the time when there was no king in Jerusalem of the lineage of Judah, but rather when Herod, a foreigner, was reigning.
After many types and prefigurings, messengers and heralds, prophets and righteous men, wise men and kings, finally He appeared, the Lord of the world and King of kings, to perform the work of the salvation of mankind, which could not be performed by His servants. To Him be eternal glory and praise! Amen.
The Prologue of Ochrid, by Saint Nikolai