From the Rectory: Christmas 2019

A new way of looking at Christmas?!

 

In the Orthodox church, in the East, the Feast of the Incarnation or Christmas, as we know it, is called “The Birth according to the Flesh of our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ”. For them, Advent begins a period of fasting for 40 days (similar to our Lenten fast). This allows the Orthodox to remove the clutter in their lives so that they may come closer to God, and hopefully gain a new insight into the mystery of the God/child – Jesus Christ.

 

Possibly the biggest change for us to adjust to would be the lack of a Crib. It has no place in Orthodox tradition. (The first Christmas Crib was used by St. Francis of Assisi in the 3rd century, in the Western Church). The emphasis is not, therefore, on the birth of Christ, but His divinity! The Orthodox tradition is a celebration that God became man! Our transcendent God, through the birth of Jesus, became one of His own creatures! This is something for us to wonder and marvel at!

 

A 4th century saying was that “God became human so that human beings might become divine”. This is the essence of Christmas, and allows us to read: “The Birth according to the Flesh of our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ” in a new way. For it tells us what the religious significance of Christmas is about. Through God becoming man, we are forgiven our sins so that we might obtain Salvation (eternal life) which needs to be seen through the lens of Jesus’ Cross, death, and Resurrection. In essence, we and creation are reborn, made new in Him (Jesus Christ).

 

This is the wonder of Christmas!

With every blessing, for a blessed and peaceful Christmas,

Yours in Christ

Christopher

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

 

A Meditation

I am not here to pass judgement or point the finger at anyone.

My name was written in the sand as one who is forgiven.

Strengthened with hope, impervious to shame,

I will walk freely like the freshness of the dry lands after rain.

Let light spill out of heaven through my life,

Dispelling mediocrity and silent blame.

Too many people, guilt-stricken, wounded, walk in regret,

Feeling bad about failing, apologise even for breathing.

Raw belief, a passion for others grows in me,

Encircling each moment with instinctive prayer.

I will carry the freshness of the dry lands after rain.

Compassion lives in me again.

Andy Raine

Taken from Meditation Day 9 Prayer from the Northumbria Community

https://www.northumbriacommunity.org/meditations/meditation-day-9/

 

St Ninian’s started the season of Advent with a family service, where the children lit the first Advent candle as we start on our Advent journey. One of the children demonstrated how easy it is to lose one’s way on the journey, when one can’t see because it’s dark. Jesus is portrayed as light because He helps us find the way, Himself being the Way. Light can be split in the colours of the rainbow and the ultra violet is the dark end which is why we use violet for Advent and Lent, the dark we look through to the light that shows us the way. The light that was and is and is to come.

 

During intercessions we were given a holly leaf, the prickles representing the thorns in the crown of thorns. We prayed as we held our leaves and then put them in a wreath. The most poignant moment for me was when a very young girl responded very clearly to ‘Maranatha’ with ‘Come Lord Jesus’ during the intercessions; an example to us all.

 

Did You Know?

The partridge in the pear tree is Jesus Christ.

Two turtle doves are the Old and New Testaments.

Three French hens stand for Faith, Hope, and Love.

Four calling birds are the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Five gold rings recall the Torah or Law.

Six geese a-lyaying stand for the six days of Creation.

Seven swans a-swimming represent the seven-fold Gifts of the Holy Spirit – Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, and Fear of the Lord.

Eight maids a-milking are the eight Beatitudes.

Nine ladies dancing are the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit – Love Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, and Self-control.

Ten lords a-leaping are the Ten Commandments.

Eleven pipers piping stand for the Eleven Faithful Disciples.

Twelve drummers drumming symbolise the Twelve Points of Belief in the Apostle’s Creed.

So there is your history for today.

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

MERRY CHRISTmas because Christmas is not Christmas without Christ.

*May the Christmas GIFTS remind us of God’s greatest gift, His only Son.

*May the Christmas CANDLES remind us of Him who is the “Light of the world”.

*May the Christmas TREES remind us of another tree upon which He died.

*May the Christmas CHEER remind us of Him who said, “Be of good cheer”.

*May the Christmas FEAST remind us of Him who is “the Bread of Life”.

*May the Christmas BELLS remind us of the glorious proclamation of His birth.

*May. The Christmas CAROLS remind us of the song the angels sang, “Glory to God in the Highest!”

*May the Christmas SEASON remind us in every way of Jesus Christ our King!

 

Jenny Wright

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

 

Angels From the Realms of Glory

I have loved the carol ‘Angels From the Realms of Glory’ since I was a child gulping in great breaths to see me through the long twiddly phrases of the chorus. We sang it in primary school but since those far off halcyon days I don’t seem to have sung it very often. It was the music that first attracted me, despite those long phrases, it is a sing-able, even dance-able tune and great fun to play on my squeaky descant recorder. The words are a little old fashioned but no more so than many of the other hymns and carols that we regularly enjoy singing.

 

Each verse reminds us that this birth id different, this bay is not just a new-born human child; he is also God. The angels sing of his part in “creation’s story”; he is the long-expected Messiah,,,,, the “great Desire of Nations” wrapped up in an infant’s body. In turn the angels, shepherds, and wise men, or sages, are invited to come and worship him because at last “God with us is now residing”.

 

In the final two verses, we’re reminded of the other coming for which we wait, the time when Jesus will return in triumph. The fourth verse shows us the saints, that’s all of us, watching and waiting hopefully to see “the Lord, descending” and appearing in his temple. The fifth verse continues this theme pointing out that although we now see a tiny baby, in time he will “fill his Father’s throne” and all the nations will worship him.

 

There’s no snow in this carol, no Victorian images of pretty ice-skaters or rosy-cheeked carol singer, no red-robed American Santa or cute rockin’ robins. It’s just the story of the awe-inspiring mystery that Jesus is fully God as well as being fully human. A reminder that God’s love for us is so vast that the Son chose to give up the glories of heaven to be born as a human baby so that the plan for our reconciliation with God could come to completion.

 

So, those of you who choose the songs to be sun, this year give the angels a chance and all of you in the congregations, take a deep breath to “Come and worship Christ the new-born King”.

 

https://library.timelesstruths.org/music/Angels_from_the_Realms_of_Glory/

 

May your Christmas be filled with the joy of the angels,

God bless and keep you in His loving care,

Helen Evans