On Tuesday, while the rest of the world donned work attire and trudged off to jobs at offices, restaurants, hospitals and more, we prepared to head to our second Christmas – Holy Nativity celebrated on January 7th.
Before that day part of me struggled. While in theory it sounded nice “Two Christmases? Wow!” when reality hit I was done. We’d had a great western Christmas — the candle light service, the Christmas eve brunch feast that has now become a tradition at the home of our best friends, the presents, the joy, the laughter. And now I was in the aftermath when lethargy hits and you’re just done.
I kept on trying to push myself into excitement, into ‘feeling’ something. It didn’t work. So on Monday night – spent from a long day of work, I ended up with tired legs and weary heart at the vigil service, a Christmas eve service, to prepare for the Nativity celebration the next day.
And it was there that my tired heart found solace and a rest for its longing. For in that vigil there were not gifts, no tree, no Santa, no wrapping paper – pretty and shiny at the beginning but cast off with the garbage at the end. In that vigil was my call to remember the incarnation, remember that God became man and we were never the same.
Over and over we sang these words – words that I had not heard before but have now found a resting place in my heart:
“Thy Nativity O Christ our God has shown to the world the light of wisdom. For by it those who worshiped the stars were taught by a star to adore Thee, the Son of Righteousness, and to know Thee, the Orient from on high. O Lord, glory to Thee!”
With tired feet and revived heart I left the church that night. Mystery replaced magic – the mystery of the incarnation, that act that has confounded and comforted through the ages. “Today the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent One”
The next morning we arrived to a church bathed in sunlight, the gold of icons reflecting the light from stained glass windows. We arrived to witness and participate in the joy and celebration of the birth of Christ. With the choir leading, we sang the words “Taught by a star to adore him” over and over, planted in my brain forever I think. The Nativity – showing to the world the light of wisdom.
Our second Christmas — my journey of faith, continuing to see the world in new ways through the Orthodox church. It’s not that I don’t know all of this — it’s that sometimes I need to hear it in a new way, so that my old heart can be resuscitated and reminded that just as those who worshiped the stars were taught by a star to adore him – I too need to be taught to adore him.
Blessed Nativity! Christ is Born!