Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Sober Christmas

Christ is Born; Glorify Him! (the proper Orthodox Christian greeting for Christmas)

At the Divine Liturgy Gospel for Christmas we read of King Herod’s response to hearing the news of Jesus’ birth.
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him." When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him  And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. So they said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: 'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.'" Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also." When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way. (Matthew 2.1-12)
In the midst of our Christmas celebration, the Church has found a way to remind us that we must remain always vigilant and sober in our Faith and celebrations. When Herod heard of the birth of a “new king,” he pretended to want to “come and worship Him,” but rather planned to kill Him. To remain faithful to Jesus, the Magi, after worshiping Him, went home “another way” rather than returning to their old way.

We should welcome this reminder after worshiping God at His birth, and depart from Church following a different way. This different way is the way of repentance. Rather than returning to a way of life in which our Lord is betrayed, it is up to us to follow a different course.

Just as in Jesus’ time, there are many in the world that pretend to honor God, but are determined to remove Him from a place of influence in our society. Just as the Magi did not directly engage Herod, but went home another way, we should consider following another way and refuse to engage others in their attempt to discredit the Church.

When you choose to be transfigured and live a new life in Christ, you can choose to dedicate your life to honoring God, while avoiding unnecessary conflicts. You cannot control how others will respond to Jesus, but you can control how you respond. The Magi chose the path of repentance; will you?

Christ is Born; Glorify Him!

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