The Holy Festival of the Lights

St. Gregory Nazianzus

BaptismChrist is bathed in light; let us also be bathed in light.  Christ is baptized; let us also go down with Him, and rise with Him.

John is baptizing when Jesus draws near.  Perhaps He comes to sanctify His baptizer; certainly He comes to bury sinful humanity in the waters.  He comes to sanctify the Jordan for our sake and in readiness for us; He Who is spirit and flesh comes to begin a new creation through Spirit and water.

The Baptist protests; Jesus insists.  Then John says: "I ought to be baptized by You."  He is the lamp in the presence of the Sun, the voice in the presence of the woman in the presence of the Firstborn of all creation, the one who leapt in his mother's womb in the presence of Him Who has already come and is to come again.  "I ought to be baptized by You"; we should add: "and for You," for John is to be baptized in blood, washed clean like Peter, not only by the washing of his feet.

Jesus rises from the waters; the world rises with Him.  The heavens like Paradise with its flaming sword, closed by Adam for himself and his descendants, are rent open.  The Spirit comes to Him as to an equal, bearing witness to His Godhead.  A voice bears witness to Him from heaven, His place of origin.  The Spirit descends in bodily form like a dove that so long ago announced the ending of the flood and so gives honor to the body that is one with God.

Today let us do honor to Christ's baptism and celebrate this feast in holiness.  Be cleansed entirely and continue to be cleansed.  Nothing gives such pleasure to God as the conversion and salvation of humanity, for whom His every word and every revelation exist.  He wants you to become a living force for all humanity, lights shining in the world.  You are to be radiant lights as you stand beside Christ, the great light, bathed in the glory of Him Who is the light of heaven.  You are to enjoy more and more the pure and dazzling light of the Trinity, as now you have received - though not in its fullness - a ray of its splendor, proceeding from the one God, in Christ Jesus our Lord, to Whom be glory and power now and ever, and to the ages of ages.  Amen!

Taken from Christ-bearers - Meditations for the Pre-Christmas Fast, Christmas, and Theophany.


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Teachings of Christ

'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day." (John 6:53-54 ESV)

Scripture

December 10, 2017
Twenty-Seventh Sunday After Pentecost
- Matins: Luke 24:12-35 (Gospel 5)
- Liturgy: Ephesians 6:10-17, Luke 17:12-19 (Slavs), Luke 13:10-17 (Greeks)

Twenty-Eighth Week After Pentecost
- Monday: 2 Timothy 2:20-26, Mark 8:11-21
- Tuesday: 2 Timothy 3:16-4:4, Mark 8:22-26
- Wednesday: 2 Timothy 4:9-22, Mark 8:30-34
- Thursday: Titus 1:5-2:1, Mark 9:10-16
- Friday: Titus 1:15-2:10, Mark 9:33-41
- Saturday: Ephesians 1:16-23, Luke 14:1-14

December 17, 2017
Sunday of the Forefathers
Second Sunday Before Christmas
- Matins: Luke 24:36-53 (Gospel 6)
- Liturgy: Colosians 3:4-11, Luke 14:16-24

Twenty-Ninth Week After Pentecost
- Monday: Hebrews 3:5-11, 17-19, Mark 9:42-10
- Tuesday: Hebrews 4:1-13, Mark 10:2-12
- Wednesday: Hebrews 5:11-6:8, Mark 10:11-16
- Thursday: Hebrews 7:1-6, Mark 10:17-27
- Friday: Hebrews 7:18-25, Mark 10:23-32

December 23, 2017
Saturday Before Christmas
- Galatians 3:8-12, Luke 13:18-29

December 24, 2017
Sunday Before Christmas
Sunday of the Holy Fathers
- Matins: John 20:1-10 (Gospel 7)
- Liturgy: Galatians 3:8-12
- Matthew 1:1-25

Christmas Eve
- First Royal Hour: Micah 5:2-4, Hebrews 1:1-12, Matthew 1:18-25
- Third Royal Hour: Baruch 3:36-4:4, Galatians 3:23-29, Luke 2:1-20
- Sixth Royal Hour: Isaiah 7:10-16; 8:14; 8:8-10, Hebrews 1:10-2:3, Matthew 2:1-12
- Ninth Royal Hour: Isaiah 9:6,7, Hebrews 2:11-18, Matthew 2:13-23
- Vespers: 1) Genesis 1:1-13, 2) Numbers 24:2, 3 ; 5-9, 17, 18, 3) Micah 4:6, 7; 5:2-4, 4) Isaiah 11:1-10, 5) Baruch 3:36-4:4, 6) Daniel 2:31-36, 44, 45, 7) Isaiah 9:6, 7, 8) Isaiah 7:10-16; 8:1-4, 8-10
- Liturgy: Hebrews 1:1-12, Luke 2:1-20

December 25, 2017
Christmas
- Matins: 1:18-25
- Liturgy: Galatians 4:4-7, Matthew 2:1-12

December 26,2017
Synaxis of the Most Holy Mother of God
- Hebrews 2:11-18, Matthew 2:13-23

December 27, 2017
First-Martyr and Archdeacon Stephen
- Acts 6;8-15, 7:1-7, 47-60, Matthew 21:33-42, Hebrews 10:1-18, Mark 11:23-26

December 28, 2017
Twenty Thousand Martyrs of Nicomeida
- Hebrews 10:35-11:7, Mark 11:27-33

December 29. 2017
Holy Innocents
- Hebrews 11:8,11-16, Mark 12:1-12

Saturday After Christmas
- 1 Timothy 6:11-16, Matthew 12:15-21

December 31, 2017
Sunday after Christmas: Commemoration of the Holy Righteous David the King, Joseph the Betrothed, and James the Brother of the Lord
- Matins: John 20:11-18 (Gospel 8)
- Liturgy: Galatians 1:11-19, Matthew 2:13-23

Feasts & Fasts

December
6 - St Nicholas the Wonderworker and Archbishop of Myra in Lycia
9 (8) - The Conception of the Most Holy Mother of God by the Righteous Anna
12 - Our Lady of Guadalupe
17 - Second Sunday Before Christmas (Holy Forefathers)
24 - Sunday Before Christmas (Holy Fathers) / Christmas Eve
25 - The Nativity of our Lord God and Savior, Jesus Christ
26 - Synaxis of the Most Holy Mother of God, Boxing Day (Canada)
27 - First-Martyr and Archdeacon Stephen
28 - 20,000 Martyrs of Nicomedia
29 - 14,000 Infants (the Holy Innocents) Slain by Herod at Bethlehem
31 - Sunday after Christmas: Commemoration of the Holy Righteous David the King, Joseph the Betrothed, and James the Brother of the Lord

Please pray!

"They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword...." (Hebrews 11:37a)

Please lift up in prayer all those who are persecuted and deprived of liberty, everywhere in the world. Please especially remember the peoples of Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Niger - the whole Middle East and Africa - who are literal martyrs for Christ. Also the peoples of Ukraine. They are our brothers, for all are one in Christ.

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Saint Nicholas of Myra

The truth of your deeds has revealed you to your flock, * as a rule of faith, an image of meekness, and a teacher of abstinence. * Therefore, you attained the heights through humility, * and riches through poverty. * O Father and Hierarch Nicholas, * pray to Christ God that our souls may be saved. (Troparion, Tone 4)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

In Myra, You were shown to be a servant of the sacred things, O Holy Nicholas, * for, fulfilling the Gospel of Christ, you, O Venerable, laid down your life for your people, * and saved the innocent from death. * Therefore, you were sanctified as a great initiate of the grace of God. (Kontakion, Tone 3)

Random Proverb

"My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding, that you may keep discretion, and your lips may guard knowledge." (Proverbs 5:1,2 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Do not pray that things may be according to your desires, for your desires are not always in keeping with the will of God. It is better to pray as you were taught, saying: "Thy will be done" (Matthew 6:10). Pray in this way about all things, for He always desires what is good and profitable for your soul, whereas you do not always seek it.

Saint Nilus of Mount Sinai: "153 Texts on Prayer"