Friday, November 8, 2013

Don’t Miss Out on All That Great Inspiration

The other day, I was discussing this year’s Christmas program for our Sunday School. Every year our children “perform” a mini-play featuring the story of Christmas. Now, on the surface this is no different than so many other Churches throughout the country. You know how it works, a young boy and girl play the parts of Joseph and Mary and the younger children play angels, inn keepers and various barnyard animals. But I wanted our program this year to be different. As we searched for an answer to our dilemma, it occurred to me that we have never portrayed the Christmas story according to our Holy Orthodox Christian tradition. In keeping the script to the Holy Scriptures, we were limited to including very few details of the events leading up to and culminating in the Nativity in the Flesh of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ.

But…….we’re Orthodox, so we aren’t limited to just the information in the Holy Scriptures. We have a greater tradition that includes writings of the Apostles, Holy Fathers and Holy Mothers of the Church. Here are just a few things you may not know…

Most Christians consider Joseph to be a “young bachelor” looking for a wife, BUT according to the ancient Holy Tradition of the Church, and lasting through more than a full millennium, Joseph was an older man, most likely in his 70’s and a widower. He was chosen by lot as a righteous man to care for the Holy Virgin who had been raised in the Temple. As a widower, Joseph brought along his children who assisted in the journey to Bethlehem with the Holy Virgin. At the time of the Nativity of the Lord, Joseph went in search of a midwife who was needed to help care for the Virgin Mary and the about-to-be-born Christ. Her name, by-the-way was Zelomi.

Of course, all these parts of the Christmas Story are never covered by your average Sunday School Christmas Pageant since most are based solely on the Holy Scriptures. However now you realize just how much you miss if you limit yourself to “just” the Bible. There is so much more just waiting to be explored.

There are many other things that are known to us that are not available in the Holy Scriptures, such as the name of the Archangels. Only Michael and Gabriel are listed in the Holy Scriptures, but the Church also names: Raphael, Uriel, Salaphiel, Jegudiel, & Barachiel. They are listed in the Book of Enoch, which is not part of the Holy Scriptures, but known to the Church.

Now I’m not suggesting you stop reading the Holy Scriptures. I AM suggesting that there is additional beneficial information that will assist you in your journey toward Christ. This information has been available in the Church since the beginning, but has been discarded mainly by the Protestant West as part of “Sola Scriptura” movements.

One VERY famous belief of virtually every Christian is that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are “of the same essence” and undivided. BUT the word ομοούσιον (same essence) actually does not exist in the Holy Scriptures and was debated by the ancient Church for that very reason.

As we draw near to the Nativity of Our Lord this year, I encourage you to look into the wider Holy Tradition of the Orthodox Church as a venue to further your understanding and appreciation of Christmas.

Here is a link to a GREAT resource in English that compiles much of what the Church knows about the Theotokos. The book includes an extended section leading up to and including Christmas. The Life of the Virgin Mary

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