Nativity is just around the corner. I cannot believe it is almost here. It seems like it has been forever in coming. At the same time the last month has just flown by. In the busyness of everything I have been trying to take time to reflect on just what is happening.
For some time now I have really been meditating on the incarnation. A deep reality has set in that honestly words fail. Words can only describe this great mystery. The iconography of the Theotokos has been a big part of this unfolding. The reality of God in flesh is so beautiful . Not only did God embrace humanity it was elevated. We are of one flesh. one spirit, and through faith and the sacraments one nature.
The Nativity of our Lord takes up real time. It is a real event that really happened. The birth of Jesus to his and our blessed mother Mary. This was a timeless event. Not just a map pin on the timeline of history. What happened in the natural is equally timely and yet timeless. The reality of God coming to humanity has always been. His mercy and grace fill all time. We can see this in sacred scripture.
The Nativity of our Lord takes up future time. I am reminded of the words from the Eucharistic cannon “Christ has died Christ has risen Christ will come again”. Yes Christ will come again. Like the 10 virgins waiting for the bridegroom. Nativity is a reminder that Christ will come again. It is in the Nativity we wait, hope, and prepare. So I will say it again Christ will come again!
The Nativity of our Lord takes up present time. We know not time when Jesus returns. We heard these words from his mouth. St. Paul also believed Christ would return during his lifetime. Most of the Early saints did. Throughout history people have thought the return of Christ was imminent. Rightfully we all need to live as if Christ could return at any time. The reality is that we will most likely be reunited with Christ through our natural death.
We are called to pray, fast, and give alms. We are to live like every moment counts. We are to live like there is no tomorrow. The truth is we do not know what tomorrow will bring. We are to rest and take comfort in the promises left to us by our Lord. Have faith dear ones. Keep up the good fight of faith. Enjoy the Nativity liturgies. Mostly try to be present in the moment. Be it at church or at home.
I have been out of pocket for some time. Sickness and vacation have kept me away from my blog and from the church I have been visiting.
This Sunday we will be celebrating Theophany. I have experienced many Epiphany Mass’s as an Anglican, but this will be the first Theophany I have celebrated.
I look forward to the new experience. I also am really looking forward to getting back to church. I feel as if the life has been drained from my being. The past few weeks have been wonderful. Visiting family and celebrating Christmas. The vacation was much needed rest for my weary body.
I also have felt a sense of loss like I did when we first left our Episcopal Parish. I must say I miss Christmas Mass. I miss serving these services. I miss the casual talk and laughter in the sacristy. This transition has been harder then I expected. My family still does not feel as if we have found our place.
I keep telling myself all we need to do is stay faithful, and keep moving forward. God is with us!
So I am excited for new experiences. I am sure I will have plenty to share sometime next week. Monday we will be visiting a Russian Orthodox Church to celibate the Nativity. A bit odd to do things backwards. I guess it is the price one pays with a church that has 2 calendars.
So this year November 15 marks the start of the Nativity fast. Fasting will continue till December 24th. This is something somewhat new to me. Every year at my Episcopal parish our priest would explain sometime in November that this would normally begin a time of fasting within the church similar to lent. He would add that is why our readings mid November take on an apocalyptic tone. This will continue into advent and up to Christmas. He would also point out that the Nativity fast was something found in antiquity. That in modern times we understand this time of preparation in a much different way.
With all respect to my former priest I say to following. I find it curious how groups often refer to a practice they no longer partake in as antiquated or an old tradition. Sometimes it is said we understand the faith differently now, and this particular practice is no longer needed.
I will say this I do understand that one can fast food and make this season a penitential time. Like all things if it becomes a means to itself or not to God then it is a loss effort. In the Episcopal church Advent is a joyous time. Nevertheless it is like lent a time of preparation. The season is meant to be taken with a light heart, and an anticipation of the coming of the Lord.
In many ways I still understand this time as such. I will still be breaking out my advent wreath. On Sundays we will be lighting the candles in preparation of the coming of the Lord. Will I be fasting? You bet I will be, but not just food. I will begin to prepare my heart for the coming of the Lord. My attention will be on this as well. Fasting for me is not necessarily about food. Even though I do fast food. It is about drawing near to God, and allowing the Holy Spirit to do a work within our hearts.
I am reminded of what St. John Chrysostom teaches us:
… the eye and the ear and the feet and the hands and all the members of our bodies.
Let the hands fast, by being free of avarice.
Let the feet fast, by ceasing to run after sin. Let the eyes fast, by disciplining them not to glare at that which is sinful. Let the ear fast, by not listening to evil talk and gossip. Let the mouth fast from foul words and unjust criticism.
For what good is it if we abstain from birds and fishes, but bite and devour our brothers?