Collects for the nativity of Our Lord:
O God, you make us glad by the yearly festival of the birth of your only Son Jesus Christ: Grant that we, who joyfully receive him as our Redeemer, may with sure confidence behold him when he comes to be our Judge; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
O God, you have caused this holy night to shine with the brightness of the true Light: Grant that we, who have known the mystery of that Light on earth, may also enjoy him perfectly in heaven; where with you and the Holy Spirit he lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
Almighty God, you have given your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and to be born [this day] of a pure virgin: Grant that we, who have been born again and made your children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit; through our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with you and the same Spirit be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.
Psalm 96; Isaiah 9:2-7; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-14(15-20)
Psalm 97; Isaiah 62:6-12; Titus 3:4-7; Luke 2:(1-7)8-20
Isaiah 52:7-10; Hebrews 1:1-4,(5-12); John 1:1-14
From Forward Day by Day:
Luke 2:1-14(15-20). While they were there, the time came for her to deliver a child.
Two people going to be counted in a census. A very young woman ready to give birth. They cannot find a place to stay and end up in a cave or stable. The details of the time and place don't really matter at all.
What matters is that a child is born, that he is the son of God, that he came to us in human form; that he experienced the same feelings and pains other people experience; that his parents experienced the same joys and sorrows that all parents share.
All of us can take from this day and these experiences our commonality. It is what we do with our lives and how we celebrate this Christ's mass that makes a difference.
For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and his name is Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. --Isaiah 9:6
When the contrast between the cosmic creation and the little local infancy has been repeated, reiterated, underlined, emphasized, exulted in, sung, shouted, roared, not to say howled, in a hundred thousand hymns, carols, rhymes, rituals, pictures, poems, and popular sermons, it may be suggested that we hardly need a higher critic to draw our attention to something a little odd about it... In the riddle of Bethlehem it was heaven that was under the earth.
--G. K. Chesterton
Anglican Cycle of Prayer: Pray for Lainya - (Sudan)
Advent calendar: Ways to help others:
11. Pray, "Lord, have mercy on us. May your will be done on Earth as in heaven."
From: Christmas CLARESHARE December 2006
Ty Mam Duw Poor Clare Colettine Community
Upper Aston Hall Lane, Hawarden, CH5 3EN WALES GB
Loving Greetings for a Joy filled Christmas and a Blessed New year from all your little sisters at TMD.
We thought you might enjoy a 12 days of Christmas Poor Clare style. We have done it primarily for one of our beloved Fathers, who is on his own in southern Africa, in a hotel, to whom this comes especially but we share it with you all - whatever your faith background, it might be a real bit of Christmas!
Find a baby and give her/him a special Christmas blessing.
Eat your dinner with thanksgiving.
From John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., Tradition Day by Day: Readings from Church Writers. Augustinian Press. Villanova, PA, 1994.
Let us celebrate the coming of our salvation from Augustine of Hippo
If God has not been born in time, you would have suffered eternal death. If he had not taken on himself the likeness of sinful flesh, you would never have been freed from it. But for his mercy, you would have experienced everlasting misery; had he not shared your death, you would never have returned to life. Unless he had hastened to your aid, you would have been lost; if he had not come, you would have perished.
Let us then joyfully celebrate the coming of our salvation and redemption, honoring the festive day when he who is the great and everlasting day came from the endless day of eternity into our own brief day of time. He has become our justice, our holiness, and our redemption. And so, as scripture says, let those who boast make their boast in the Lord.
by St. John Chrysostom
St. John Chrysostom’s homily on the nativity was delivered during a period
of great theological pluralism and fierce debate over the identity and work
of Jesus Christ. In this sermon St. John enlists the words of Cyril of
Alexandria (c. a. _382-444) to place us securely before the mystery of the
one who is both fully God and fully human: “Nor yet by any loss of divinity
became He man, nor through increase became He God from man.” This view
would, find normative expression some fifty years after Chrysostom’s death
in the Chalcedonian Formula faith (45IAD.). In our own time of pronounced
theological fluidity, may Chrysostom’s words help us appreciate the
stunning force of the news that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”
BEHOLD a new and wondrous mystery. My ears resound to the Shepherd’s song,
piping no soft melody, but chanting full forth a heavenly hymn. The Angels
sing. The Archangels blend their voice in harmony. The Cherubim hymn
their joyful praise. The Seraphim exalt His glory. All join to praise
this holy feast, beholding the Godhead here on earth, and man in heaven.
He Who is above, now for our redemption dwells here below; and he that was
lowly is by divine mercy raised.
Bethlehem this day resembles heaven; hearing from the stars the singing of
angelic voices; and in place of the sun, enfolds within itself on every
side, the Sun of justice. And ask not how: for where God wills, the order
of nature yields. For He willed, He had the power, He descended, He
redeemed; all things yielded in obedience to God. This day He Who is, is
Born; and He Who is, becomes what He was not. For when He was God, He
became man; yet not departing from the Godhead that is His. Nor yet by any
loss of divinity became He man, nor through increase became He God from
man; but being the Word He became flesh, His nature, because of
impassability, remaining unchanged.
And so the kings have come, and they have seen the heavenly King that has
come upon the earth, not bringing with Him Angels, nor Archangels, nor
Thrones, nor Dominations, nor Powers, nor Principalities, but, treading a
new and solitary path, He has come forth from a spotless womb.
Since this heavenly birth cannot be described, neither does His coming
amongst us in these days permit of too curious scrutiny. Though I know
that a Virgin this day gave birth, and I believe that God was begotten
before all time, yet the manner of this generation I have learned to
venerate in silence and I accept that this is not to be probed too
curiously with wordy speech. For with God we look not for the order of
nature, but rest our faith in the power of Him who works.
What shall I say to you; what shall I tell you? I behold a Mother who has
brought forth; I see a Child come to this light by birth. The manner of
His conception I cannot comprehend.
Nature here rested, while the Will of God labored. O ineffable grace! The
Only Begotten, Who is before all ages, Who cannot be touched or be
perceived, Who is simple, without body, has now put on my body, that is
visible and liable to corruption. For what reason? That coming amongst us
he may teach us, and teaching, lead us by the hand to the things that men
cannot see. For since men believe that the eyes are more trustworthy than
the ears, they doubt of that which they do not see, and so He has deigned
to show Himself in bodily presence, that He may remove all doubt.
Christ, finding the holy body and soul of the Virgin, builds for Himself a
living temple, and as He had willed, formed there a man from the Virgin;
and, putting Him on, this day came forth; unashamed of the lowliness of our
nature’. For it was to Him no lowering to put on what He Himself had made.
Let that handiwork be forever glorified, which became the cloak of its own
Creator. For as in the first creation of flesh, man could not be made
before the clay had come into His hand, so neither could this corruptible
body be glorified, until it had first become the garment of its Maker.
What shall I say! And how shall I describe this Birth to you? For this
wonder fills me with astonishment. The Ancient of days has become an
infant. He Who sits upon the sublime and heavenly Throne, now lies in a
manger. And He Who cannot be touched, Who is simple, without complexity,
and incorporeal, now lies subject to the hands of men. He Who has broken
the bonds of sinners, is now bound by an infants bands. But He has decreed
that ignominy shall become honor, infamy be clothed with glory, and total
humiliation the measure of His Goodness.
For this He assumed my body, that I may become capable of His Word; taking
my flesh, He gives me His spirit; and so He bestowing and I receiving, He
prepares for me the treasure of Life. He takes my flesh, to sanctify me;
He gives me His Spirit, that He may save me.
Come, then, let us observe the Feast. Truly wondrous is the whole
chronicle of the Nativity. For this day the ancient slavery is ended, the
devil confounded, the demons take to flight, the power of death is broken,
paradise is unlocked, the curse is taken away, sin is removed from us,
error driven out, truth has been brought back, the speech of kindliness
diffused, and spreads on every side, a heavenly way of life has been ‘in
planted on the earth, angels communicate with men without fear, and men now
hold speech with angels.
Why is this? Because God is now on earth, and man in heaven; on every side
all things commingle. He became Flesh. He did not become God. He was
God. Wherefore He became flesh, so that He Whom heaven did not contain, a
manger would this day receive. He was placed in a manger, so that He, by
whom all things arc nourished, may receive an infant’s food from His Virgin
Mother. So, the Father of all ages, as an infant at the breast, nestles in
the virginal arms, that the Magi may more easily see Him. Since this day
the Magi too have come, and made a beginning of withstanding tyranny; and
the heavens give glory, as the Lord is revealed by a star.
To Him, then, Who out of confusion has wrought a clear path, to Christ, to
the Father, and to the Holy Ghost, we offer all praise, now and for ever.
* How has your life “resembled Bethlehem”—how has Christ been born anew in your life?—- In the lives of your students and staff? * Have you learned new things, or relearned previous lessons about who Christ is? In what ways has your “slavery been ended, the devil confounded, the demons take to flight, the power of death broken, paradise unlocked, the curses taken away, sin removed error driven out, truth brought back, the speech of kindliness diffused and spread on every side, a heavenly way of life implanted on earth, angels communicate with humans without fear and humans now hold speech with angels”? Go through this list and remember—Worship—allow these things to inform your waiting.
Read slowly and prayerfully these scriptures; The Songs of Emmanuel Lk.
1.46-55; 67-79; 2.29-35, Jn. 1. 1-1-18
To fill all things with Thy glory, thou hast gone down into the nethermost parts of the earth; For my person that is in Adam has not been hidden from Thee, but in Thy love for man thou are buried in the tomb and dost restore me from corruption. Byzantine liturgy
'He bowed the heavens and came down...'
The Nativity of Christ (Christmas)
25 December / 7 January:
When the Creator beheld man, whom He had made with His hands, about to perish, He bowed the heavens and came down; and He was endued with man’s nature in very truth, becoming incarnate of a Virgin divinely pure: for He has glorified Himself. 
There is no mystery greater than that of the Incarnation of God. In the quiet majesty of an archangel’s salutation, months before in Nazareth, a wonder beyond description was begun; and here, on this night, that wonder will be fully manifest. The great mystery which the holy Virgin, now holy Mother, had for long days stored up and treasured in her heart, the reality hidden but to a select few, is now to shine forth in all the radiance of a heavenly star. Sages shall travel the world to see it, shepherds shall clamour to behold it, a king shall feign to prevent it. But nothing shall thwart this great, salvific act of the One who ‘beheld man, whom He had made with His hands, about to perish’. In the troubled agony of a rushed birth, in the mire of an animals’ dwelling, the miracle that is the foundation of the Christian life takes place. Here God ‘bows the heavens and comes down’ into the full reality of His creation.
Yet, despite our songs, there was no crèche in Bethlehem. The night may have been holy, but it was not silent. Soldiers hunted a mysterious ‘newborn king’ while travellers packed into overcrowded hostelries to appease the census mandates of a new taxation. This will have been a loud night indeed. And in the stable: a squalor, a filth, a stench. Nowhere, here, the serene harmony of our usual vision of the child’s birth. Nor was this but a child. The whole setting of the mystery speaks to us of something different, something abnormal. Something impossible.
Today a Virgin brings forth the Super-substantial, and the earth offers a cavern to the Unapproachable. Angels, together with the shepherds, sing praises; the wise men journey onward with the star. For, for our sakes, God, who is before all the ages, is born a little child. 
All the noise of the surroundings, the terrible paradox of the Virgin ‘divinely pure’ stationed in the muddy squalor of the stable, shocks us to consider the full reality of the present moment. One is brought into the substance of human nature who is beyond substance, beyond nature. Magi draw near to Him who cannot be approached. Shepherds gaze upon Him at whom none may look and live. God, who before time fashioned all things, cries and breathes the breath which at first He gave to man, now as an infant child.
This night was not silent, and the shepherds did not merely sing. These gathered at the feet of one most pure (herself a miracle) to behold the human birth of Purity Himself. The shepherds came to the Mother of God to set eye upon the coming of God to man.
This notion of the coming together of God and man is at the heart of the present mystery, and is often hailed in the liturgical texts of the Church. As the shepherds approached the newborn Son, and as later the wise men from the East, so, says the Church, do I:
A mystery strange and most glorious do I behold: The cavern, heaven; the Virgin, the cherubic throne; the manger, the receptacle wherein lies Christ our God, whom nothing may contain. Him, therefore, do we magnify, praising Him in song. 
In the glory of the Incarnation, the divine and the worldly are suddenly, triumphantly, united and transformed. This filthy cavern is no more a mere stable, but one stands here in all the radiance of heaven itself. The Mother of God, human even as am I, holds in her arms the pre-eternal Son and is in her material person the divine throne of more honour than the cherubim. The wood of the feeding trough, for all its rancour, is here and now the bed which holds in its embrace the God whom all the heavens and the earth cannot contain. Divine things and human are, in this moment, indistinguishable. Do I behold woman, or throne? Cave, or heaven? Man, or God? The earthly has been brought to the divine and the divine has come to the earthly, and in this most awesome mystery we behold a thing ‘strange and most glorious’. I come and I gaze, but I am struck with awe, for I behold the things of Paradise resting in a cavern .
Indeed, it is this mixture of the heavenly and earthly that is the whole point of our chief of mysteries. It is in the union of heaven and earth, of man and God, says the Church, that our salvation takes form. Thus can we cry out to Christ:
O Christ, who has conformed Thyself unto our base, mortal mould, and by that participation in our lowly flesh has imparted unto us a share of the nature divine; who, though Thou didst become earthborn, yet didst remain still God and hast exalted our horn: Holy art Thou, O Lord! 
Christ has ‘imparted to us a share of the divine’. We must hear these words a thousand times, receive their wonder anew at each hearing. This feast, this mystery beyond description, is not solely about God becoming man. We are not to be struck with wonder, when gazing into the manger, only in that we behold there the eternally begotten second Person of the holy Trinity—awesome mystery though this truly be. As I approach the cave of the birth on this night, the most terrible, the most wondrous and the most ineffable awe is borne in my heart when I behold in the manger not only God, but me. It is my nature that the Son has taken for Himself in this unspeakable act of love, and I behold today, before mine eyes, this nature imparted the nature of my God. I behold Adam, a mortal, made of clay , made perfect in the grace of Christ.
This is the wonder of the Nativity. God comes to us, gives Himself to us, and not only in deed and action. Our very nature is taken up into His, and to our mortal frame is imparted a portion of the divine life. This life, we eagerly remember, is that which conquers all—the life that conquers evil, sin, darkness, even death itself, as we sing with such fervour in the light of Pascha. That this life has, in the Incarnation, become our life, is the source of all our hope, confidence and joy in the Christian faith. It is the motivation for our struggle, for our labour, and it is the light yoke by which we are set free. Our bonds may now be broken. Our slavery may be overturned. Our long bondage to sin and exile from Paradise may now be ended. It is both telling and fitting that the Israelite lament at captivity, enshrined in the Psalm by which we, at another point in our year, enter into the purifying sorrow of Great Lent , is deliberately brought to mind in the hymnography of the Nativity:
Grief put aside the instruments of song, for the children of Sion sang no more in alien lands. Yea Christ, in that He hath shone forth in Bethlehem, sets us free from every error, and sets free also the musical harmony of Babylon. Wherefore let us sing the song: Let all creation bless the Lord, and magnify Him unto all the ages! 
As human and divine meet in the Incarnation, our captivity at last is ended and the people of Sion again find voice for their song. No longer does our nature dwell exiled in an alien land, separated eternally from its Creator by sin, by the wiles of the Evil One, by any power whatever. The deep-set sorrow of hopeless exile is banished when Christ ‘sets us free from every error’ and unites in His person what is fallen in mine and perfect in His. There is no better refrain of awe at this mystery than the words sung at Vespers on the eve of the feast:
O come, let us rejoice in the Lord as we declare this present mystery: The partition wall of disunion has been destroyed, the flaming sword is turned back, the cherubim withdraw from the Tree of Life, and I partake of the food of Paradise, whence I had been expelled because of disobedience. For the immutable Image of the Father, the Image of His eternity, takes the form of a servant, having come forth of a Mother unwedded, yet having suffered no change. For that which He was, He remains, being very God; and that which He was not, He has assumed, becoming true man because of His love for humankind. Unto Him let us cry aloud: O God, who was born of a Virgin, have mercy upon us! 
(Text by M.C. Steenberg, 2003)
 Troparion from Canticle 1 of the Matins Canon for the Nativity.
 Kontakion of the Matins Canon.
 Irmos from Canticle 9 of the Matins Canon.
 Cf. the Ikos of the Matins Canon.
 Troparion from Canticle 3 of the Matins Canon.
 Cf. the troparia from Canticle 2 of the Matins Canon.
 Psalm 136 (137 in the Hebrew Bible): ‘By the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept, when we remembered Sion […] Those who captured us required of us a song […] but how shall we sing the Lord’s song in an alien land?’ This Psalm is sung first in Lent on the Sunday of the Prodigal Son.
 Troparion from Canticle 8 of the Matins Canon.
 Sticheron in tone 2, from Vespers on the eve of the Nativity.
The Twelve Days of Christmas
The Twelve Days of Christmas is probably the most misunderstood part of the church year among Christians who are not part of liturgical church traditions. Contrary to much popular belief, these are not the twelve days before Christmas, but in most of the Western Church are the twelve days from Christmas until the beginning of Epiphany (January 6th; the 12 days count from December 25th until January 5th). In some traditions, the first day of Christmas begins on the evening of December 25th but the following day is considered the First Day of Christmas (December 26th).
The origin of the Twelve Days is complicated, and is related to differences in calendars, church traditions, and ways to observe this holy day in various cultures (see Christmas). In the Western church, Epiphany is usually celebrated as the time the Wise Men or Magi arrived to present gifts to the young Jesus (Matt. 2:1-12). Traditionally there were three Magi, probably from the fact of three gifts, even though the biblical narrative never says how many Magi came. In some cultures, especially Hispanic and Latin American culture, January 6th is observed as Three Kings Day, or simply the Day of the Kings (Span: la Fiesta de Reyes, el Dia de los Tres Reyes, or el Dia de los Reyes Magos; Dutch: Driekoningendag). Even though December 25th is celebrated as Christmas in these cultures, January 6th is often the day for giving gifts. In some places it is traditional to give Christmas gifts for each of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Since Eastern Orthodox traditions use a different religious calendar, they celebrate Christmas on January 7th and observe Epiphany or Theophany on January 19th.
By the 16th century, some European and Scandinavian cultures had combined the Twelve Days of Christmas with (sometimes pagan) festivals celebrating the changing of the year. These were usually associated with driving away evil spirits for the start of the new year.
The Twelfth Night is January 5th, the last day of the Christmas Season before Epiphany (January 6th). In some church traditions, January 5th is considered the eleventh Day of Christmas, while the evening of January 5th is still counted as the Twelfth Night, the beginning of the Twelfth day of Christmas the following day. Twelfth Night often included feasting along with the removal of Christmas decorations. French and English celebrations of Twelfth Night included a King's Cake, remembering the visit of the Three Magi, and ale or wine (a King's Cake is part of the observance of Mardi Gras in French Catholic culture of the Southern USA). In some cultures, the King's Cake was part of the celebration of the day of Epiphany.
The popular song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" is usually seen as simply a nonsense song for children. However, some have suggested that it is a song of Christian instruction dating to the 16th century religious wars in England, with hidden references to the basic teachings of the Faith. They contend that it was a mnemonic device to teach the catechism to youngsters. The "true love" mentioned in the song is not an earthly suitor, but refers to God Himself. The "me" who receives the presents refers to every baptized person who is part of the Christian Faith. Each of the "days" represents some aspect of the Christian Faith that was important for children to learn.
However, many have questioned the historical accuracy of this origin of the song The Twelve Days of Christmas. It seems that some have made an issue out of trying to debunk this as an "urban myth," some in the name of historical accuracy and some out of personal agendas. There is little "hard" evidence available either way. Some church historians affirm this account as basically accurate, while others point out apparent historical discrepancies. However, the "evidence" on both sides is mostly in logical deduction and probabilities. One internet site devoted to debunking hoaxes and legends says that, "there is no substantive evidence to demonstrate that the song 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' was created or used as a secret means of preserving tenets of the Catholic faith, or that this claim is anything but a fanciful modern day speculation. . .." What is omitted is that there is no "substantive evidence" that will disprove it either.
It is certainly possible that this view of the song is legendary or anecdotal. Without corroboration and in the absence of "substantive evidence," we probably should not take rigid positions on either side and turn the song into a crusade for personal opinions. That would do more to violate the spirit of Christmas than the song is worth. So, for the sake of historical accuracy, we need to acknowledge this uncertainty.
However, on another level, this uncertainty should not prevent us from using the song in celebration of Christmas. Many of the symbols of Christianity were not originally religious, including even the present date of Christmas, but were appropriated from contemporary culture by the Christian Faith as vehicles of worship and proclamation. Perhaps, when all is said and done, historical accuracy is not really the point. Perhaps more important is that Christians can celebrate their rich heritage, and God's grace, through one more avenue this Christmas. Now, when they hear what they once thought was a secular "nonsense song," they will be reminded in one more way of the grace of God working in transforming ways in their lives and in our world. After all, is that not the meaning of Christmas anyway?
-Dennis Bratcher, Copyright © 2006, Dennis Bratcher, All Rights Reserved
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On the 1st day of Christmas my true love gave to me...
Day 1, Christmas Day, December 25
A Partridge in a Pear Tree
The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus the Christ, the Son of God, whose birthday we celebrate on December 25, the first day of Christmas. In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge that feigns injury to decoy predators from her helpless nestlings, recalling the expression of Christ's sadness over the fate of Jerusalem: "Jerusalem! Jerusalem! How often would I have sheltered you under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but you would not have it so . . . ." (Luke 13:34)
The memories come flashing back. Family, friends, carols, special gifts, special events, special . . . everything. It all seems so close. So welcome. So wonderful. And, it should.
A fresh awareness of whom we are always seems to come alive today. As the memories dance in and out and as the sparkling lights and tinsel provide an easy dream world escape, the days of yesterday seem to become the time of now once again. We revel in the delicious awareness that we have always been loved. And it seems, for those delightful moments of revelry, that nothing has ever been wrong in the world.
And then, we remember. Sometimes it comes crashing back like a flood. "Peace on earth, good will to men" is a wonderful pronouncement of angelic heraldry. But, it is not the reality of the world in which we live at all. As important as the advent of the Savior is, the task He came to initiate has not yet been fulfilled. It is not even difficult to realize that.
So, on this day, this Christmas Day, what can we do to accomplish whatever is our part of the task that Jesus' coming was meant to cause to happen?
Peace on earth: Let it start within your own heart.
Good will to men: Look at your family, or those close by. Look up from this screen. There is a world around you that you are to influence. Let the good will begin in and shine from you. Someone has to start the process.
"The Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost."
You and I, and our neighbors, are His purpose. We always have been. We always will be. He came to so fully change our lives that the angel's pronouncement to Joseph had been, " . . . and He SHALL save His people . . .."
Our relationships, every one of them, are damaged by whom we are without Him. He came to save us from the damage that is part of us, a damage that we did not seek, and yet can do nothing about in our own strength. His desire is that those relationships be healed.
Us to Him
Us to ourselves
Us to each other.
Who would ever have thought that such a thing could be put into motion by such a seemingly common occurrence? He was just a baby that day. Helpless, susceptible to danger, small, insignificant. But, OH, how the world was forever changed.
The tinsel, the garland, the lights and ornaments. They are only but a dim reminder of how much glory God ushered into the world that day so very long ago. On their own, they are pretty sights that captivate even a child's imagination. But, in contrast, only a small candle in comparison to the glory God gave to us that day.
Merry Christmas !! It is but one aspect of God's wonderful gift!
Ottumwa, Iowa, USA
With JOY and GLADNESS and PRAISE we say Thank You!! We know we do not deserve what You have given. Your Son is a gift too precious for us to comprehend. Father, today, fill our hearts with Your presence. Immanuel has come. God is with us!! You are for us. You are in us. We are forever changed. Lord, we lift Your name on high!