Read Luke 13:10-17
Next Sunday we hear the story of another handicapped person, a crippled woman whom Christ heals.
Think about how you feel when you meet person who has a handicap or deformity. How do you think he or she feels? As you read this story think about how Jesus loved all people and how he approached them.
When and where did Jesus meet the crippled woman?
We are easily shocked by any good work which is not “according to the rules”… Church people are especially prone to the temptation to denigrate and condemn all that is not of “their” orthodoxy. Let this gospel about the crippled woman and the synagogue official teach us to become humble enough, amenable enough to all light from above to admit –– with joy and gratitude –– the good that can be done through other channels than those which, rightly or wrongly, we consider “proper.” May God make us able, when faced by any “healing on the Sabbath,” to feel what the people who surrounded Jesus felt: “All the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him.”
From Year of Grace of the Lord, pp 50-51
The truth of your deeds has set you before your flock as a standard of faith, an example of meekness and a teacher of self-control. Thus you acquired greatness through humility and spiritual wealth through poverty. O Father and Hierarch Nicholas, intercede with Christ our God, that He may save our souls.
Dismissal Hymn of the Feast of saint Nicholas
Christmas is truly a feast for children and we too must become like children to be able to rejoice in the wonder of Christmas. This is the celebration of the indescribable wonder of the eternal all powerful God coming to us in humility as a defenseless and vulnerable babe.
Looking upon Christ, who humbles Himself, let us be lifted up from the passions that drag us down; having learned in faith and good zeal not to think lofty things, let us be humbled in spirit; that by exalted works we may exalt Him who is being born.
Triode of Compline of the Forefeast, third hymn of the ninth Ode
Why do people come to Jesus?
a. to the poor
b. to the hungry
c. to those who weep
d. to the persecuted
Christ is born, give Him glory!
Christ comes from heaven, go out and meet Him!
Christ is on earth, be exalted!
O all the earth, sing to the Lord!
O people, sing praises in gladness,
for He has been glorified!
First Hymn of Christmas Katavasiai
Today the Virgin is on her way to give birth to the preeternal Logos
Rejoice, O inhabited earth, when you hear the good news!
With angels and shepherds, glorify Him
Who chose to appear as a new-born babe, the preeternal God.
This is not a tradition that goes back to the early days of Christianity, but has been a feature of the celebration of this season for about 1000 years. It was the Nordic peoples who brought evergreen trees into their homes in dark periods of winter to bring them the gift of strength. It was in the 7th century when Saint Boniface used the evergreen to teach that the everlasting nature of the evergreen reminds us of the eternal life we can have in Christ. Also, the triangular shape reminds us of the three persons of God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The shape of the tree points towards heaven, the lights remind us that Jesus is our hope and light in a dark world and the star on the top helps us think of the three wise men who took off from far away lands to come and see their king. As you decorate your tree give thanks to God for all these wonderful senses and for His everlasting love and light.
During the Christmas season God’s love and His message of new hope comes to us through the beauty and peace of the incarnate Christ. Yet the good news of God’s love may be entirely missed, and Christmas may be an unfulfilled dream, amidst the hectic bustle of cleaning, shopping, writing, calling, decorating, baking and visiting. The basic reason for an unfulfilled Christmas is that we focus on ourselves, how to please each other, how to feel good and how to secure happiness with all the things we regard as necessary. Yet only Christ can give us a true Christmas. Only His presence in our hearts can bring happiness, peace, joy, warmth and security. Cling to Christ evermore closely during the Christmas season. Take the time to pray and to establish your spiritual and practical priorities. Let Christ come with you from home to school, from kitchen to shopping center, from Church to business office.
Christ our God, who has made it possible for us to pray together and who promised that when two or three are gathered in Your name You will give them what they ask: Do now fulfill our requests, insofar as it is good and according to the special need of each, granting us in this world the knowledge of Your truth and in the world to come eternal life. For You are a loving God and to You we give glory, to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.
I will make you all my kinsmen, if you keep My commandments, says Christ to mankind as He comes forth from a pure womb. Granting us peace, He commands us to have lowly thoughts, and to recognize Him as Lord and to sing: We highly exalt You forever!
Triode of Compline of the Forefeast, second hymn of the eight Ode
Reference: A year in the Lord Liturgical Bible Studies by Theodore Stylianopoulos and Meditations for Advent: preparing for Christ’s Birth by Vassilios Papavassiliou