On this, the 25th day of December, we celebrate the Nativity according to the flesh1 of Our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ.
Χριστὸς γεννάται! Δοξάσατε!
Christ is born! Give ye glory!
Мир Божији, Христос се роди! Ваистину се роди!
Peace from God, Christ is born! Truly He is born!
“The incomprehensible and inexplicable Nativity of Christ took place according to the chronology of the Eastern Church in the year 5508 from the creation of the world, when Herod the Great was reigning in Judea. He was from Ascalon on his mother’s side and from Idumea on his father’s, and altogether a stranger to the race of Jacob, receiving his kingdom from the Emperors of Rome. He ruled over the Jewish people for 33 years. The former royal tribe of Judah had been deprived of its rights and stripped of all rule and authority. It was in these circumstances for the Jews that the expected Messiah was born, and the prophecy spoken 1807 years earlier by the Patriarch Jacob was unerringly fulfilled: ‘There will not lack a ruler from Judah, nor a leader from his loins until he for whom it is intended comes, and he is the expectation of nations’ (Gen. 49:10).
“Our Saviour was born in Bethlehem, a city of Judea, to which Joseph had gone up from Nazareth in Galilee, taking with him Mary, his espoused, who was with child, that they too might be enrolled, according to the decree that had been issued in those days from the then ruling emperor Augustus Caesar, among his subjects. When the time for the birth came, and because, and because, owing to the great numbers of people who had arrived, there was not sufficient room in the public inn, the Virgin’s condition made it necessary for her to enter a cave near Bethlehem and into a stable used for animals, where she gave birth and wrapped the babe in swaddling clothes when it was born, and laid him in a manger (Lk. 2:1.7). From this there arose the tradition that when he was born Christ was laid between two animals, an ox and an donkey. As the words of the Prophets appear also to justify: ‘In the midst of two animals you will be known’ (Hab. 3:2) and ‘The ox knows its owner and the donkey its lord’s manger’ (Is. 1:3); even though these animals are understood tropologically by the interpreters for those who believed from among the Jews and the nations, or according to another more natural understanding.
“But while the earth received the Saviour so poorly at his birth, from above heaven celebrated with magnificence his coming to save the world. Some shepherds in the region of Bethlehem, who were keeping a night watch over their sheep, were suddenly surrounded by an extraordinary light and saw before them an Angel bringing them the good tidings of the joyful birth of the Lord. And immediately, after the one Angel, they saw and heard the whole host of the heavenly Powers praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will among men’ (Lk. 2:8-14).”
(From the Great Horologion, trans. Archimandrite Ephrem)
Also, be sure to read the 2008 Nativity Encyclical of His Holiness, Patriarch Pavle of Serbia, together with the entire episcopate of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
Greetings to all on the radiant feast
of the Nativity of Our Lord!
1 This clumsy expression is the usual English translation of the Greek ἡ κατὰ σάρκα γέννησις, which refers, of course, to the Lord’s human birth. It must be remembered that the specification is made necessary in Greek because the Son is also said to be γεννηθέντος (i.e., begotten) of the Father (cf. the Nicene Creed’s τὸν ἐκ τοῦ Πατρὸς γεννηθέντα πρὸ πάντων τῶν αἰώνων).