Calendar Christian Living Great Feasts The Theotokos

The Nativity of Christ

“Christ is Born!”
“Glorify Him!”

December 25/January 6

Holy Scripture Accounts

Eve of the Nativity of Christ (December 24th)

Royal Hours (December 24th)
  • 1st hour
    • Micah 5:2-4
    • Hebrews 1:1-12
    • Matthew 1:18-25
  • 3rd hour
    • Baruch 3:35-4:4
    • Galatians 3:23-29
    • Luke 2:1-20
  • 6th hour
    • Isaiah 7:10-16; 8:1-4,9-10
    • Hebrews 1:10-2:3
    • Matthew 2:1-12
  • 9th hour
    • Isaiah 9:6-7
    • Hebrews 2:11-18
    • Matthew 2:13-23
Vespers (December 24th)
  • Genesis 1:1-13
  • Numbers 24:2-3, 5-9, 17-18
  • Micah 4:6-7, 5:2-4
  • Isaiah 11:1-10
  • Baruch 3:35-4:4
  • Daniel 2:31-36, 44-45
  • Isaiah 9:6-7; 7:10-16; 8:1-4, 9-10
  • Hebrews 1:1-12 *
    (* Read Galatians 3:15-22 if Vespers are sung separately from the Divine Liturgy on the Eve of the Nativity as on Saturday or Sunday)
  • Luke 2:1-20

The Nativity of Christ (December 25)

  • Matthew 1:18-25
Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom
  • Galatians 4:4-7
  • Matthew 2:1-12

The Epistle (from feast day Liturgy)

“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”

– Galatians 4:4-7

The Gospel (from feast day Liturgy)

“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

Troparion (Tone 4)

Your Nativity, O Christ our God,
Has shone to the world the Light of wisdom!
For by it, those who worshipped the stars,
Were taught by a Star to adore You,
The Sun of Righteousness,
And to know You, the Orient from on High.
O Lord, glory to You!

( audio )

Kontakion (Tone 3)

“Today the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent One,
And the earth offers a cave to the Unapproachable One!
Angels with shepherds glorify Him! The wise men journey with a star! Since for our sake the Eternal God was born as a Little Child!

Teaching from the Nativity of Christ Icon

Jesus the Messiah is wrapped in swaddling clothes that resemble His death shroud; the manger is the same shape as His tomb; the cave of His birth resembles the cave of His burial. Church Fathers such as Ephraim the Syrian emphasize that God the Word was made flesh so that He could enter Hades and leave it powerless, freeing us from sin and death forever.”

The Theotokos is at the heart of the icon since she is the Mother of Life, the new Eve through whom God came to reestablish the world. Her patient, understanding gaze toward Joseph, who struggles to make sense of what has happened, reassures us as we struggle with our own doubts about God and His Incarnation.”

The Star receives it’s light from a ray emanating from the large semicircle representing God, which shines beyond the boundaries of the icon. The three rays remind us that the Son is still with the Father and the Holy Spirit in heaven after the Incarnation.”

The Angels turning toward Earth announce the good news of God’s wondrous arrival.”

The Shepherds in their humility, are the first children of Israel to draw near to Christ. Some icons show a shepherd playing an instrument, joining the angels in their tuneful praise of God.”

The Ox and Donkey join the Theotokos and her Child in the cave. ‘The ox knows his owner, and the donkey his master’s crib; but Israel does not know Me, and the people have not regarded Me.‘ (Isaiah 1:3) “

The Magi, reaching Jesus later than the children of Israel, represent those who make their way to Christ from great physical, mental, or spiritual distances. The gold they bring is for the King of kings, the frankincense for the one true God, and the myrrh for His anointing after the death for which He was born.”

Joseph struggles with doubt. Since Nativity is an icon of the re-establishment of the world, the tempter – represented by the old man of worldly wisdom – is present at this new beginning. The halo reminds us that Joseph ultimately triumphed over disbelief.”

The Midwives who bathe Jesus remind us that God truly became human with real human needs. The water itself hints at the next feast in the calendar, the Theophany, which affirms His divinity.”

Quoted from: Heaven meets Earth: Celebrating Pascha and the Twelve Feasts (page 18), by John Kosmas Skinas

More information

featured image source for this post found in Heaven Meets Earth book (p 18)

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