The words “Advent” and “adventure” have a common derivation. Advent is defined as “coming” or “arrival”. From November 21st, our Orthodox Church, in its Hymnography of the Christmas Season speaks to us about the arrival of the Lord. Advent, through these hymns, offers us a Season of expectation and enthusiasm as we venture to the cave of Bethlehem and the Nativity.
Nativity Season Matins Ode 1:
“Christ is born: Glorify Him. Christ is come from Heaven: receive Him. Christ is on earth: be exalted…All the people, praise Him in joy…”
At Christmas we celebrate the anniversary of the Birth of Christ. The anniversary is important, He was born 2000 years ago, but also He is born and is still with mankind today.
Sometimes we overlook the fact that God is with us. The Gospel of St. Matthew proclaims, “The Virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Emmanuel, which means ‘God is with us!’ “. We observe Christmas to commemorate that God is with us. So we rejoice. As we rejoice that God is with us in Christ, our lives are transformed.
An excellent example is the shepherds in the Christmas Story. They were not aware of prophecies or God’s plan of salvation. They were aware that their lives had been transformed by the Angels of Heaven praising God at His Incarnation. Their lives were affected by the opportunity to meet Jesus, the babe, lying in a manger. The meeting transformed them into effective evangelists who had a powerful impact for God.
Our rejoicing about God being with us is expressed not only in songs and Christmas greetings, but also in the way we live. God is with us, be at peace; God is with us, be generous; God is with us, and we have His blessings, love and aid. He stepped out of heaven to live with us and save us. Jesus came to have a relationship with us. This is the great gift of Christmas; God gave Himself to us. We need God with us – not just on Christmas Day, but throughout the year.
That which happened in Bethlehem long ago, happens again whenever the Divine Liturgy is celebrated. Christ comes to us again, quietly, humbly, concealed in the Sacrament of Holy Communion. He makes Himself approachable. The Sacrament of Holy Communion is the extension of Christmas. In commemorating Christmas we observe not only the Anniversary of God’s coming into this world thousands of years ago; we celebrate His coming into the world today in the manger, in our soul, through this Holy Sacrament in every Liturgy.
Christmas is an amazing season in the Glory of His Birth. During this Holy Season we attend Church Services, we participate in the Sacraments and we thank Him for His Incarnation and His willingness to come to earth to establish a relationship with us and offer salvation from sin, evil and death.