Saint Yared the Melodist wrote in his book called Digua “today the angles and men communed as one so as to glorify Christ” (Book of Digua). The hosts sang “glory to God in the highest” for Him, who with the Father and Holy Spirit is ever glorified in His nature, and is worthy of much glorification and praise. They also chanted “on earth peace” to announce the arrival of peace and reconciliation on earth. On this sacred day, not only angles and men, but also animals praised God saying “Today the redeemer, giver of true light, Savior of the World, is born”. On this blessed day, all creation glorified and praised God as one heart and one tongue.
The birth of our Lord Jesus Christ did not come unexpectedly, as there were many foreshadows and prophesies foretold, that said God will come down from the heaven and will be born of a Virgin. Concerning this day, Isaiah the prophet prophesied:-
- Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14) and goes on to say ““For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given. His dominion shall be upon His swathing, and His name shall be called, Great, Counselor, Almighty God, Governor, King of Peace, and Everlasting Father who shall come.” (Isaiah 9:6).
- Ezekiel the prophet also said about this wonderful mystery, "And the Lord said to me, 'This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter by it, because the Lord God of Israel has entered by it, therefore it shall be shut."' (Ezekiel 44:2)
- About this child, Daniel the prophet said, "I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and the Kingdom that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His Kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed." (Daniel 7:13-14)
- Jeremiah the prophet said, "Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, that I will raise to David a Branch of Righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In His days, Judah will be saved and Israel will dwell safely; now this is His Name by which He will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness." (Jeremiah 23:5-6)
Starting from Adam till those who lived prior to the Advent, Our forefathers yearned to see the Nativity of our Lord. But since their days were numbered, they were only able to see the foreshadows and prefigurements of the Lord and rejoiced and praised Him. “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad” (John 8:56). “But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”(Gal. 4:4). When the appointed time came, God sent Archangel Gabriel to the chosen Holy Virgin Mary and announced the conception and birth of the Savior of the World.
The Holy Virgin Mary conversed with the archangel and said “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word”. Then the Word of God took flesh from flesh, soul from soul and spirit from spirit of the Virgin and abode/dwelt at her Womb. After nine months and five days, Jesus Christ was born at Bethlehem (Mathew 2:1-2). The invisible God became visible, the uncontainable God became man, slept at the manger and was swathed/swaddled in a cloth and was heard crying befitting a baby. Psalm 132:5-6. This really is a profound and deep mystery!
The first men invited to be witnesses were humble shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And when the angle announced the joyful news of the birth of the Savior of the World, who will remove the curse of the flesh and the spirit and replace them with blessings, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us." And they came with haste and found the Babe and His Holy Mother, Mary. Now when they had seen him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this child. Then they worshipped the child and they returned, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen.
Our God, Lord of the Heaven and the earth, Jesus Christ was given presents/gifts from both the heavenly hosts and men. While the Heavenly angles, who praise and glorify God day and night without rest, sang Him the Greater Doxology (Glory to God in the highest"), the wise men of the East, who were led by a star, came to Him, and when they entered the cave they found the Child with Mary His mother, and they fell down and worshipped Him, and they embraced Him, and they opened their treasures and brought and gave Him the gold, which was His tribute, for He was a king, and incense because He was God, and myrrh, which was a symbol of His life-giving death. The ox and the ass/donkey warmed him through their breaths as well. “The ox knows his owner, and the ass his master’s crib; but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider” Isaiah 1:3. Of course the shepherds did not come empty handed to the adoration of the Child and His Holy Mother.
To come back to the adoration of the Wise Men of the East, “the angel appeared unto them again and told them in a dream not to go back to Herod, but to depart by another road and journey to their own country.” And they departed by another road and became preachers and announcers of the appearance of God in the flesh. For they came inquiring “where is He?” And went back claiming “We have seen/found God”, they were pagans, asking to see the “King of the Jews” and went back praising and proclaiming Him to be “God”. (Mathew 2:1-11).
O Christians! It is appropriate to us to come to the Church (“Bethlehem) bearing gifts of correct belief (gold), steadfast hope (incense) and true love (myrrh). Each time we celebrate the Feast of Nativity singing the Greater Doxology, it is not just a simple commemoration. We feel the same anticipation and joy as was felt by Simeon the God-receiver, and Hana the daughter of Phanuel. We sing in the Church “Today there is complete happiness because of Jesus Christ’s birth”. “Today” we feel the same joy that came to the angles and the shepherds and wise men.
Through His Incarnation, the Lord God has wrought us with forgiveness of sins, reconciliation and peace. For all the incredible goodness that has been brought to us through His Incarnation, “What shall (we) render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward us?” Psa. 116:12 we can only reciprocate by glorying and praising God. Of course Man was created to thank his God and to inherit His Kingdom. That is why king David said “Praise ye the LORD: for it is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant; and praise is comely” Psa. 147:1. For it is fitting and praise worthy to “Give thanks always for all things unto God” Eph. 5:20. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has, despite our numerous sins, as per His great mercy, compassion and patience, He has preserved us till this hour, sustained us by day and by night, by accepting the trials of life in joy and long suffering, putting our hope even in the darkest hour on Him, we sing “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits”” Psa. 103:2.
Since we have kept the fast of Advent in preparation for this feast, and have arrived at this glorious feast, we should celebrate it with purity and every good thing. We should observe the Nativity by presenting God a sacrifice of gratitude by attending the liturgy and singing, together with the angles “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." We should extend our hand to comfort the weak, to help the poor, and to be instruments of peace and reconciliation among the people, taking our Lord Who has made an eternal peace by His Incarnation as our example.
We ask God in supplications to have compassion upon us and to forgive our sins, and to bless our gatherings.
May we be considered worthy to be partakers of the blessings of the Glorious Feast of the Nativity.
May God grant us many returns of this feast, filled with the blessings of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who came for our salvation.
To Him be the Glory and Honor forever. Amen.