St. Paul the Apostle Orthodox Church

Nativity Bulletin


December 25, 2018


Today’s Schedule:


Prosfora: A. Makris                               

Epistle: L. Short                    

9:00am Hours: L. Short

9:30am Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom

11:30am Festal Buffet

 


Hymns & Readings:


The First Antiphon

I will give thanks to You, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will make all Your wonders known.

Refrain: Through the prayers of the Theotokos, O Savior, save us!

 

In the company of the upright, in the congregation, great are the works of the Lord. Refrain  

They are sought out according to His will. Refrain

Full of honor and majesty is His work, and His righteousness endures forever. Refrain

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages.  Amen. Refrain


The Second Antiphon

Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commandments.

Refrain: O Son of God, born of the Virgin, save us who sing to You: Alleluia!

 

His descendants will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Refrain

O Son of God, born of the Virgin, save us who sing to You: Alleluia! Refrain

Glory and wealth are in His house, and His righteousness endures forever. Refrain

Light rises in the darkness for the upright; the Lord is merciful, compassionate and righteous. Refrain

 

Tone 4 Troparion Nativity

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!    

 

Tone 3 Kontakion

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 the star,//

since for our sake the eternal God was born as a little Child!

 

Instead of “Holy God…”

As many as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ. Alleluia!

 

Tone 8 Prokeimenon

Let all the earth worship You and praise You!  Let it praise Your Name, O Most High! 

 

Epistle: Galatians 4:4-7

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.

 

Gospel: Matthew 2:1-12

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.

 

Hymn to the Theotokos

Magnify, O my soul, the most-pure Virgin Theotokos, more honorable and more glorious than the heavenly hosts. I behold a strange, most glorious mystery: heaven—the cave; the cherubic throne—the Virgin; the manger—the place where Christ lay—the uncontainable God, Whom we magnify in song.      

 

Communion Hymn

The Lord has sent redemption to His people.Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!      

 


For Further Reading:


Fr. Ted’s Christmas Message

Dear Fellow Parishioners,


Christ is born!


May the peace of Christ be with all of you.


This year a verse from the Christmas narrative has stood out in my heart and mind.  The angel tells Joseph not to be afraid but to know about his wife Mary that“she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." (Matthew 1:21)


I don’t know what Joseph made of that statement, for I wonder how many of us think deliverance from sin is the most important thing that God or the Messiah can do for us.  Joseph had a lot to worry about -  a pregnant wife, the Roman government, poverty, survival, homelessness, being an immigrant, fleeing persecution, paying taxes and escaping death.  He was responsible for a young wife and a newborn baby whom God claimed as His own yet had entrusted to Joseph’s care.  And Joseph had no army to protect him, no money, no place to lay his head.  So, I’m not sure that the forgiveness of sins was the most impressing issue on his mind.


The angel doesn’t promise that God will save Joseph or God’s people from terror or tyrants, from the power of one’s enemies, or from pain, disaster or death.  And while the angels in heaven were singing God’s praise at the birth of Jesus, on earth, forces were plotting to kill him.  While our Christmas spirit tends to sentimentalize the story, the narrative of the Nativity involves evil plots and life-threatening risks.


And we realize one of the most profound mysteries of the birth of Jesus – God enters the world as a child and puts Himself at the mercy of the world.  God entrusts himself to the care of a young girl and an old carpenter, penniless and powerless.  God trusts them.  God comes into the world with no power, money or influence as a defenseless child and allows the world to show God the mercy we always are asking from God for ourselves.  That certainly is the mystery and meaning of the Christmas story.  We are given opportunity to do unto God as we would have God do for us. 


But, you might protest, yes, “they” rejected Christ and threatened him and wanted to kill him, but when did we have opportunity to show how we would treat Christ? And the King will answer, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.'  (Matthew 25:40)


Christ comes to us every year at Christmas in the guise of brother or sister, friend or foe, neighbor or stranger. We are given opportunity to see in each person in our household, or neighborhood, or family, or in the parish the least of Christ’s brothers and sisters and to how our love for them.  When you do, Christ will be born again in you, and you will become like God.

I wish you all of the joys of the Christmas season.  Thank you for all your prayers and for the work you do to make St. Paul’s the parish community to which God calls us.

 

With love on this the joyous Feast of the Nativity of Christ,


Fr. Ted

 

Nativity Message of His Grace Bp. Paul

“For today I see equality of honor between heaven and earth, and a way for all those below to things above, matching the condescension of those on high. However great the heaven of heavens may be, or the upper waters which form a roof over the celestial regions, or any heavenly place, state, or order, they are by no more marvelous or honorable than the cave, the manger, the water sprinkled on the Infant and His swaddling clothes. For nothing done by God from the beginning of time was more beneficial to all or more divine than Christ’s nativity, which we celebrate today.… He Who is by nature Lord of all is now ranked with the servants and enrolled with them (Luke 2:1-6), clearly making humble service to others no less honorable than the exercise of lordship, or rather, showing the servants as having greater honor than the earthly ruler at that time.” —St. Gregory Palamas, Sermon on the Nativity

 

TO ALL CLERGY, MONASTICS, AND LAITY OF THE DIOCESE OF THE MIDWEST

 

CHRIST IS BORN! GLORIFY HIM!

 

These words of St. Gregory Palamas portray a wonderful icon of earth and heaven. It also points to the supreme act of condescension where the Uncontainable God, contained in the Virgin’s womb is now born into the world “for us men and for our salvation.” For “nothing was more beneficial to all or more divine than Christ’s nativity.”


This is why we fast, say our prayers, go to Confession, attend services, and give alms during the fasting season; it is to do away with the false dichotomy between the earthly and the spiritual. One is not lesser than the other; the created things of this world are not sinful. We don’t embrace spiritual things as good while hating what is of the earth.


By gazing into the Cave and beholding the Incarnate God, a transformation occurs in uniting ourselves to Him. All we have becomes an offering to Him in gratitude. In Christ we now become Kings of Creation and no longer slaves of Creation. In Christ we become Prophets of Creation and no longer fools of Creation. In Christ, we as Priests become intercessors of Creation and no longer desecrators of Creation. It is only through Christ we can ever realize this reality because He is the King, the Prophet, and the Priest of Creation. He once again reveals the “very good” of Creation in His Nativity.


Passions that are self-oriented now can become offerings to God the Father, through the Son in the power of the Holy Spirit. They are offerings in gratitude for the many gifts He has given, whether they are gifts of food, safety, security, or knowledge. Finally, a man and woman offers their desire to be united to each other, and to have that union blessed by the Church, and thus become an icon of a common witness between a husband and wife towards the Kingdom and of Christ’s love for the Church.


Our participation in the Cave is realized and renewed through our Baptism and Chrismation. It is fulfilled in the Cave of the Eucharistic Assembly where we touch earth and encounter heaven. Let us rejoice this day and be glad; for the glory of our earthly life, what we sense, feel, and touch, now points to the glory of that which is beyond what we see, feel and touch, a glory that has no ending!

 

CHRIST IS BORN! GLORIFY HIM!

 

With love in Christ, the unworthy

 

Paul

Bishop of Chicago and the Midwest

 

Archpastoral Message of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon

Christ is born!  Glorify Him!

 

To the Honorable Clergy, Venerable Monastics, and Pious Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America,

 

My beloved brethren and blessed children in the Lord,

 

Today, the glorious feast of the Nativity in the Flesh of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ shines forth and brings joy to all of creation.  The sacred hymnography and iconography of the Church provide words and images to help us interpret the light-filled feast that we celebrate on this day, when He Who “has adorned the vault of heaven with stars has been well pleased to be born as a babe,” and He Who “holds all the earth in the hollow of His hands is laid in a manger of dumb beasts.”


Holy Tradition offers us the account of the universal hush that took place at the incarnation, expressed in Joseph’s encounter with the stillness of the natural world: birds hanging motionless in flight, men and beasts frozen in their tracks and the waters ceasing their flow.  The continuous passage of time and movement of history came to a halt as creation paused in astonishment as the Eternal enters into the heart of time and the pre-eternal God is born as a little child.

This miraculous moment may be unique in history, but it provides us with some inspiration for the manner in which we ought to receive the sacred mystery that we celebrate today.  The Apostle Paul writes: “Be ye thankful” (Colossians 3:15) and “In everything give thanks” (I Thessalonians 5:18).  It is in this spirit of gratitude that we should receive this feast.

We live in a world in which the offering of thanksgiving has become a scarce commodity and a rare virtue.  In almost every aspect of our human existence, it seems that our first instinct is not to give thanks, but rather to reply, to respond, or to react.  At every second of our waking, we are compelled to reply to emails, to texts and to posts.  Daily, we respond to our own passionate desires, to every perceived threat and to every offense, and we are drawn to react to every instance of human fallenness, political division and ecclesiastical conflict.


While it may be easier to blame the world for these challenges, we should remember that it is from within our hearts that our actions and attitudes spring forth.  We may long for perfection, but we are confronted by our own weaknesses.  But even here we should remember, as Saint Barsanuphius reminds us, that thanksgiving intercedes before God for our weaknesses. Thanksgiving is not the crown of the perfect but the strength of the weak.


Thanksgiving is what allows us as broken, sorrowful, hurting and frail human beings to join our voices to the rest of creation in singing:

 

Make glad, O ye righteous; Greatly rejoice, O ye heavens; Ye mountains dance for joy.

Christ is born; and like the cherubim the Virgin makes a throne,

Carrying at her bosom God the Word made flesh.

Shepherds glorify the new-born Child.

Magi offer the Master gifts.

Angels sing praises, saying:

“O Lord past understanding, glory to Thee” (Praises at Matins).

 

Sincerely yours in the new-born Christ,

 

+ Tikhon

Archbishop of Washington

Metropolitan of All America and Canada