Slowing Down and Preparing for Christ
Our lives go on fast forward from Thanksgiving to Christmas. The intervening days whirl by. Mercantile interests entice us to spend more than we can afford. Nostalgia for holidays past can depress us. The pressure of gifts, gatherings and relatives can stress us. By the end of the month, we can end up an exhausted, emotional wasteland facing debts needlessly incurred. What a way to welcome the New Year!
It doesn’t have to be so frantic. The Church calendar teaches us to resist the temptations of avarice and gluttony which the corporate interests depend upon, by fasting and prayer, by confession of sins, and by the giving of alms. The services in anticipation of the Nativity, though not as intense at those of the Great Fast, lead us to Bethlehem. We follow our blessed Mother as the time of her fulfillment approaches.
We redeem the time, in other words, by preparing for the Birth our Redeemer, quietly, prayerfully, intentionally avoiding the allurements which so easily distract us. It’s not in an Ebenezer Scrooge, bah humbug, sort of way. Rather, it is in the quiet joy that our redemption draws near and that every heart should “prepare Him room, and heaven and nature sing.” The Nativity Fast is that preparation. The Nativity Feast is that fulfillment.
Also From Father’s Desk…
The children are especially encouraged to bring their parents to St. Nicholas Vespers on Friday, December 5 at 5:30 p.m. The customary evlogia from St. Nicholas will be passed out to the Sunday School who will sing in the neighborhood and decorate cookies for Christmas. Do note the earlier time in consideration of the kiddoes. (Dress warmly in bright clothing and bring flash lights for caroling.)
Our St. Nicholas Tree in the narthex gives us the opportunity each year to see to it that needy persons in the community have Christmas gifts, in partnership with Strawberry Fields, a social service agency in town. Please take a tag from the tree. Each has the age, sex and Christmas wish for an individual. Bring the gift back to church by December 21 to help spread Christ’s love this Christmas to the poor in our area.
Vespers in preparation for the Nativity begin Saturday evening, December 20 and continue daily through December 23. Click here for start times. Confessions will be heard following each service. The Nativity Fast is one of the four fasting periods during the church year when frequent communicants are expected to go to confession.