On December 25 is the Nativity according to the flesh of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ.
On this day we commemorate the Adoration of the Magi.
On this day we also commemorate the Shepherds who saw the Lord.
To Him be glory to the ages of ages. Amen.
Apolytikion. For the Feast.
Your nativity, O Christ our God, has caused the light of knowledge to rise upon the world. For therein the worshippers of the stars were by a star instructed to worship You, the Sun of Righteousness, and to know You as Orient from on high. Glory to You, O Lord.
Mode 3. Automelon.
On this day the Virgin gives birth to the Super-essential. To the Unapproachable, earth is providing the grotto. Angels sing and with the shepherds offer up glory. Following a star the Magi are still proceeding. He was born for our salvation, a newborn Child, the pre-eternal God.
“God desired a harlot” by St. John Chrysostom — what Christmas is all about:
But as I was saying, He who was thus great and powerful desired a harlot. I speak of our human nature under that name. If a man indeed desire a harlot he is condemned, and does God desire one? Yea verily. Again a man desires a harlot that he may become a fornicator: but God that He may convert the harlot into a virgin: so that the desire of the man is the destruction of her who is desired: but the desire of God is salvation to her who is desired. And why did He who is so great and powerful desire a harlot? That He might become the husband thereof. How does He act? He does not send to her any of His servants, He sends not angel, archangel, Cherubim, or Seraphim; but He himself draws near Who loves her. Again when you hear of love, deem it not sensuous. Cull out the thoughts which are contained in the words, even as an excellent bee settles on the flowers, and takes the honey comb, but leaves the herbs God desired a harlot, and how does He act? He does not conduct her on high; for He would not bring a harlot into Heaven, but He Himself comes down. Since she could not ascend on high, He descends to earth. He comes to the harlot, and is not ashamed: He comes to her secret dwelling place. He beholds her in her drunkenness. And how does He come? Not in the bare essence of His original nature, but He becomes that which the harlot was, not in intention but in reality does He become this, in order that she may not be scared when she sees Him, that she may not rush away, and escape. He comes to the harlot, and becomes man. And how does He become this? He is conceived in the womb, he increases little by little and follows like me the course of human growth. Who is it who does this? The Deity as manifested, not the Godhead; the form of the servant not that of the Master; the flesh which belongs to me, not the essential nature which belongs to Him: He increases little by little, and has intercourse with mankind. Although He finds the harlot, human nature, full of sores, brutalized, and oppressed by devils, how does He act? He draws near to her. She sees Him and flees away. He calls the wise men saying Why are you afraid? I am not a judge, but a physician. I came not to judge the world but to save the world… And how does He act? He takes the sinner and espouses her to himself. And what does He give her? A signet ring. Of what nature? The Holy Spirit… Next He says Did not I plant you in a garden? She says yea. And how did you fall from thence? The devil came and cast me out of the garden. You were planted in the garden and he cast you out: behold I plant you in myself, I uphold you. How? The devil dares not approach me. Neither do I take you up into Heaven; but something greater than Heaven is here: I carry you in myself who am the Lord of Heaven.
Christmas Services Schedule at Saint Luke Orthodox Cathedral in Hong Kong, here
Patriarchal Christmas Encyclical, here
Patriarchal Christmas Encyclical in Chinese, here
Resources for Christmas, here