Christ is born, glorify Him.
Christ from heaven, go out to meet Him.
Christ on earth; be exalted.
Sing unto the Lord all the whole earth;
and that I may join both in one word,
Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad,
for Him Who is of heaven and then of earth.
Christ in the flesh, rejoice with trembling and with joy;
with trembling because of your sins, with joy because of your hope.
Christ of a Virgin; O you Matrons live as Virgins,
that you may be Mothers of Christ.
Who does not worship Him That is from the beginning?
Who does not glorify Him That is the Last?
— St Gregory the Theologian, Oration 38
God enters into time and time is transformed, the destiny of humanity is transfigured. No longer do we look only to our life ending in death but death ending in life. The incarnation changes everything, God before the ages become a little child. He has the same humanity that we have, save sin, yet he is different: from the beginning, humans were meant to live yet the tragedy of death has entered through sin. From the beginning, this child born in a Bethlehem cave was born to die despite being sinless: yet in his death, Death is obliterated and we are led to life.
Christ is born! Not “was born,” we are not commemorating an event from two millennia ago, we commemorate that Christ is born today in the hearts of all believers. Christ is born today and it is our duty to bear him in Eastleigh and throughout the region.
I am sorry that I have no news to report on meeting as a community: we must redouble our prayers before the Lord. We are still waiting on the church we have approached and we have also reached out to another: this is, though, a busy time of year for churches so we should not be surprised with the delay.
I preached a sermon yesterday, “You are what you eat,” at St Dunstan’s Church, Poole, which I hope will be of benefit to you.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God. Amen.
“You are what you eat.” Many in today’s society will take this phrase quite literally: they will see it as a call to have a better diet — “eat more healthily,” they tell us, “have your five a day.” Others may take this saying as a metaphysical statement, “humans are just the sum of what they take in,” and will go on to reject any place for the divine — such people can be called “materialists.” In their philosophy, everything that happens has an explanation in the physical world. “You are what you eat.”
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, what do you eat? What do you put into your body? Is it healthy? Does it honour God?
Our society seems to be moving towards the end of religion. Churches are closing, assets being sold off in order to make cathedrals “financially viable.” Secularism is in the ascendency as spirituality is reduced to a “niche market.” The secularists will say, “do religion if you like, but keep it hidden — separated from our ‘tolerant’ society.” Yet secularism has won only because those of faith have accepted its premise, that human beings have a physical side and a spiritual side; secularism has divided the two, and when faithful accept this premise — trying to live a distinct public and private life, a life of work and a life of religion — they cannot manage to hold the two together: they either go off into a spiritualist faith, one where science can only be trusted if it agrees with their own world view, or they go off into a materialistic world where science explains everything and the religion they have left behind is only for “primitive people” who need a mythology to explain what they do not understand.
Read the rest here.
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The Nativity according to the flesh of our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ
This icon portrays so much of our theology. At the bottom left, the midwives are washing Christ to show this is not merely a “symbolic” event but one based in fact: Christ was born in Bethlehem. Above them is the tree,
There shall come forth a rod from the root of Jesse,
and a flower shall grow out of his root,
The Spirit of God shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of the fear of God shall fill Him.
He shall not judge by reputation
nor convict by common talk.
— Isaiah 11:1–3
This is the Jesse Tree which the Prophet Isaiah foresaw, Jesus Christ, of the house and lineage of David. At the top, we have the Three Magi — wise men from the East — who come with their gifts. Angels in heaven glorify God while others bow in adoration before Christ while veiling their hands, an act of humility before the divine. The Star shines down upon the Lord. To the right shepherds come to see the great event. At the bottom, St Joseph struggles with understanding what has happened — some icons even show the devil as an old man trying to tempt him — and we struggle alongside him: how can a virgin bear a son? Yet he is resolute in faith and follows the word of the angel to him, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20–21)
In the centre, the blessed Theotokos the largest figure yet, because she is off-centre, she is not the most important. Christ is centre, in the manger: beside him the ass and ox, again from the Prophet Isaiah,
The ox knows its owner
and the donkey its master’s crib;
but Israel does not know me,
and the people do not understand me.
— Isaiah 1:3
Christ is born: he is dressed, though, not as a new-born but as a corpse in a tomb. Christ came in order that he may die that we have life.
Can I help you?
I am here for you, you need only ask. Is there a way I can support your life of faith? Get in touch.
Can you help the mission?
I am hopeful that we will start to meet and hold divine services soon: for this to happen we will need the prayers of you all. Please hold me and each other in your prayers before God that we may be able to offer praise to God as a worshipping community.
I wish you all a joyful feast of the Nativity according to the flesh of our Saviour.
Our next planned email communication will be in the New Year, we hope on the Feast of the Theophany.
With love in Christ