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On the Observance of Christmas

The Church does not superstitiously observe days, merely as days, but as memorials of important facts. Christmas might be kept as well upon one day of the year as another; but there should be a stated day for commemorating the birth of our Saviour, because there is danger that what may be done on any day, will be neglected.
—Samuel Johnson

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Christmas Prayers

Tonight is Christmas Eve on the Orthodox Calendar followed by the Copts of Egypt. The BBC is reporting concerns that it may be one marked by violence.

Armed Egyptian police have been ordered to protect churches where Copts are expected to gather in large numbers.

There have been calls for Muslims to hold vigils outside Coptic churches in a gesture of solidarity.

But some radical Islamist websites have urged more attacks, publishing church addresses in Egypt and Europe.

The bombing of the al-Qiddissin Church in Alexandria on New Year’s Day was the worst act of sectarian violence in Egypt in a decade.

It triggered days of protests and riots by Christians blaming the government for encouraging discrimination and not doing enough to protect them.

In response, the Egyptian authorities have stepped up security around many churches, with explosives experts on hand.

Do read it all, and if you’re so inclined please say a prayer for all who worship Christ in hostile environments, confessing that “it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil” (1 Pet 3:17).

Christ Is Born!

Glorify him!

Lessons and Carols 9

The Ninth Lesson:

St John unfolds the mystery of the Incarnation.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-14)

Carol:

“O Come, All Ye Faithful”

Lessons and Carols 8

The Eighth Lesson:

The wise men are led by the star to Jesus.

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’” Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.”

When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road. (Matthew 2:1-12)

Carol:

“Coventry Carol”

Lessons and Carols 7

The Seventh Lesson:

The shepherds go to the manger.

That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terribly frightened, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David! And this is how you will recognize him: You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth!”

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God:

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and peace on earth to all whom God favors.”

When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Come on, let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this wonderful thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” (Luke 2:8-16, NLT)

Carol:

“Go Tell It on the Mountain”

Articles of Christmas

I hereby express my concurrence with James McGrath’s Articles of Christmas, and this blog post serves as official notice of my intent to offer appropriate seasonal greetings according the stipulations thereof. This post should not be understood as a blanket endorsement of the contents of James’s blog, nor a repudiation of other blogs on which Christmas greetings have been offered in the past or will be in the future.