Tuesday, November 27, 2012

How Should We Prepare for Christmas?

The arrival of December and the passing of Thanksgiving traditionally usher in the “official” Christmas Season with decorations, Christmas carols and holiday shopping, all supposedly in preparation to celebrate the birth of our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, too often these days, we expend so much energy in our decorations and shopping that we forget the holiday is about our eternal salvation rather than Black-Friday or Cyber-Monday. In fact, for most Christians today, the only preparation for Christmas is just that, decorations and shopping and maybe a little cooking. And to make things worse, with the numerous holiday parties that crowd our calendar beginning sometimes even before Thanksgiving, most of us are too exhausted to truly celebrate Christmas when the day finally arrives.


This is NOT the Orthodox way to prepare for Christmas. We prepare for so many events in our lives; anniversaries, birthdays, namedays, weddings, baptisms, graduations, it would seem appropriate that we prepare for Christmas with greater importance than these other celebrations. The proper way to prepare for Christmas is with prayer and fasting. Beginning with November 15th and lasting until the Divine Liturgy for Christmas, we are invited by the Church to fast AT LEAST from meat, in preparation to receive the gift of Christmas.


As Orthodox Christians, we should delay the celebration of Christmas until we have completed the Divine Liturgy for Christmas, after we have fasted and reflected upon our spiritual readiness for Christ in our hearts. We go to exhausting steps to ensure our homes are prepared to receive our dinner guests, but we forget to prepare our hearts to receive Christ. We clean our silver and china for our holiday meal, but we neglect to clean our hearts for the Divine Meal which is Holy Communion.


I urge you this year to reorient your life into a proper focus for the Christmas Season. I invite you to embrace the fast of the Church as a time to reflect and cleanse your souls and hearts to receive the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ on December 25th. I encourage you to plan to fully engage in the worship and divine services of the Church for Christmas this year.


And then we will celebrate with family, friends, and our brothers and sisters in Christ. We will feast for two entire weeks until Epiphany in January in honor of the birth of our Lord, God, Savior Jesus Christ. But first…..WE PREPARE!

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