We now are in the midst of preparing for the great feast of the Nativity of Christ. This is an especially busy time of the year—a time of much activity but not always action.
Activity is necessary, looks outwardly good, and is usually rooted with good intentions, but can often overwhelm our day and eventually get in the way of what really needs to be done. Action, on the other hand, means taking control of something which can move one closer or result in achieving one’s ultimate goals and dreams. When contemplating how to act during this season we can look upon Jesus’ mother Mary. Let’s remember what she did during the events of Jesus’ birth—the most momentous happening to have come to pass on the face of the earth at the time. Even though our Lord’s Advent involved eternal and infintessimal consequences, St. Luke writes that “Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart” (2:19). Here we have a model of action that we can emulate.
Picture the relative simplicity of Palestine in Mary’s day. Compare that with our life, our mode of living, and our environments. Perhaps the comparison represents two extremes, neither one of which might seem ideal, but between the two, so far as taking time to live, we are left to ponder in our hearts no other choice than that of the ancient life. To the people of the modern world, it would seem that Mary was demonstrating a mode of inaction. This is because we tend to live in a world that is purely sensory. We hear and see and smell and feel. We hardly ever stop to reflect, and if we do, it is only because we have been forced to, and thus reflection, as a means of salvation, comes too late.
We haven’t time to think deeply. We have gone so long without exercise in that direction that countless of us have never been able to think seriously and will never feel any inclination to do so. Everything is in motion. The day is of speed, of rush, of hurry. The only one who knows rest and quiet is the one in the grave. Our countless sacrifices laid on the altar of speed have denied us the real joy of life. We haven’t time to live, say nothing of experiencing its joys.
Let us strive to cultivate the peculiar grace which shone in the Theotokos. This is not something that only parents need—it is vital that we teach our children to take time to meditate upon God as well. We must become families of this action.
If we read little, let us keep it well. If we hear little, let us keep that which is worth pondering upon. Let us practice keeping and pondering, especially in those things pertaining to the health of the soul. One moment of solemn contemplation with the windows of the heart wide open towards God can be so full of hope, so full of promise, so full of blessing, that it may lead us to realize that the Lord is indeed in this place.
LIGHTS! CAMERA! ACTION!
The Sunday School will present a Christmas play following the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, December 23. Everyone is invited to stay and join in the retelling of the Nativity story and sing along with the students. (Children will practice on December 22 at 4 p.m.)
NEW BANNERS for Nativity were created by our Sunday School and are now hanging in the Narthex. Many thanks to Patty Doty for leading the students.