I love this time of year, not because of what our hyper-consumer culture has transformed it into, but for what this time of year has and continues to represent for Christians for ages of ages. It’s a time of year where I often return to a meditation that I learned many years ago when I made the decision to convert to Eastern Orthodoxy. It comes from St. Gregory the Theologian (or Nazianzus, depending on your tradition), by way of Father Alexander Schmemann:
This is our present Festival; it is this which we are celebrating today, the Coming of God to Man, that we might go forth, or rather that we might go back to God— that putting off the old man, we might put on the New; and that as we died in Adam, so we might live in Christ, being born with Christ and crucified with Him and buried with Him and rising with Him.
Therefore let us keep the Feast, not after the manner of a heathen festival, but after a godly sort; not after the way of the world, but in a fashion above the world; not as our own but as belonging to Him Who is ours, or rather as our Master’s; not as of weakness, but as of healing; not as of creation, but of re-creation.
Today is the first Sunday of the Nativity Fast for millions of (Eastern Orthodox) Christians around the world. Well, actually November 15, marks the official beginning of the Nativity Fast (40 days before Christmas), but today is the first Sunday. For many of us this represents a time of fasting and reflection in anticipation of the coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
Blessed Nativity Fast!