In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, one God, Amen.
Christ is born! Glorify him! Dear brothers and sisters, we gather here and we remember the birth of Christ. Two thousand years ago, in a cave in Bethlehem of Judea, Christ was born. And we think of this like we think of school: we remember facts, we remember skills, we remember memories. We remember.
This is not, though, remembrance as the Church understands. When we ask the Lord to remember our departed brothers and sisters in eternal memory, we do not ask him merely to remember their names as we would remember the date of the Battle of Hastings or how to throw a ball. Because in the memory of God, remembrance is about making present, here and now, a person or event as they are—we re-present them. We remember, today, the birth of Christ. And so the hymnwriter Romanos the Melodist invites us, today, to take part in the mystery: “Today the Virgin gives birth to the transcendent one.”
We remember. We remember by today crafting a manger in which the Lord may lie, not from wood but the living manger of the human heart. Today we are called to receive Christ and in so doing we do not recall a past and distant event of history but remember God coming to all humanity making this reality part of our present reality that we may be fully united to the whole history of our salvation—the Cross, the tomb, the Resurrection from the dead, the Ascension into Heaven, the Second and Glorious Appearing—all to be part of our now and our today.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, remember and make present today the Nativity of our Lord and receive him as did the manger, shine out with the radiance of the star, offer to him precious gifts as the Magi, offer to him wonder as did the shepherds, sing praises to God as did the angels, draw close to him as the ox and donkey and, as the blessed Virgin, ponder on him and nurture him in your hearts.
To our incarnate Saviour, the pre-existing Word of God, Jesus Christ, be all glory, honour and dominion, together with his unoriginate Father and the All-holy, Good and Life-giving Spirit. Amen.
Brethren, when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then also an heir of God through Christ.
— Galatians 4:4–7
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it is written by the prophet: ‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will govern my people Israel.’ Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star appeared; and he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” When they had heard the king they went their way; and lo the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.
— Matthew 2:1–12