Post date: Dec 22, 2013 7:35:16 PM
In last week’s sermon I spoke about the difference between worthiness and preparedness and about our preparation for receiving the Body and Blood of Christ. Today, as we approach Christmas, I would like to look at another preparation, as we find it in the service of the Royal Hours for Christmas. In that service we chant the following hymns.
Make ready, O Bethlehem; let the manger be prepared, let the cave show its welcome. The Truth is come, the shadow is passed away; God has appeared from a Virgin unto men, formed as we are, and deifying that which He has assumed. Wherefore, Adam is renewed with Eve, as they cry out: Your good will has appeared on earth to save our race.
Come, O you faithful, let us be lifted up with divine inspiration, and let us behold the divine condescension from on high that is made manifest to us in Bethlehem. And being cleansed in mind, by our way of life let us offer virtues in the stead of myrrh, faithfully preparing our entry into the Feast of the Nativity, storing up treasure in our souls and crying: Glory in the highest to God in Trinity, through Whom His good will is revealed to men, that as the Friend of man He may deliver Adam from the ancestral curse.
In a mystical way, creation itself prepared to receive the Creator. In the form of the cave, the Earth itself welcomes the Son of God into our midst. Humanity, which, the hymn tells us, is renewed by this coming, can do no less. The magi prepared their gifts and came on the journey to present them to the new-born King. They were blessed to be present in the historical moment of the Lord’s incarnation, but His presence is with us forever. The second hymn therefore, invites all of us to be magi, preparing our souls to be the good soil in which holiness grows and offering our virtues as most precious gifts to the Lord. It is with this preparation that we can worship not as a clanging cymbal, as St. Paul warns, but in spirit and truth, offering true glory in the highest to God.
With love in Christ,