Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

*Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

Sermon, Advent, Fr. Evan Armatas:

Each year on November 15 the Church begins its preparation for the coming Feast of the Nativity of Christ.  This date comes forty days before December 25 and is known by some as the Advent fast or even little lent.

The strictness of this fast is not as severe as that preceding Great and Holy Pascha.  Yet many of the themes found in the Great Fast of the Church are also present here in this fast.

Preparation is a main component of any fast.  As faithful Christians we begin to anticipate our celebration of this fast by preparing ourselves spiritually.  Jesus fasted 40 days prior to starting His ministry.  To set a proper framework for the birth of our Lord is important.  It helps us to see the feast in its proper context and to appreciate its true character and meaning.

The spiritual disciplines that are highlighted during the fast, although they should never be absent from a true Christian life, are prayer, fasting, and charity to the poor.  We also are encouraged to prepare and receive the sacrament of Holy Confession and dedicate ourselves to an increased vigilance against sin and the purification of our lives.

All of these spiritual disciplines help to cleanse and elevate the soul while purifying our mind and ordering our bodily desires into their right station.  It is foolish to believe one can simply ignore them and progress spiritually.  In the end all of these disciplines are done in order to develop a more personal and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.

Each of us needs these periods of lent to examine our life in Christ and our relationship with Him.  During Advent we seek to renew and re-commit ourselves to following Jesus in a more complete and real way.  We try and become more Christ-like walking according to the Spirit and following the commandments of God.

Thematically if I were to simplify the season of Advent into one thing it would be the word Emmanuel, which means God is with us.  So how can we prepare ourselves for this great mystery?  I’d like to challenge each of you to consider your time of Advent to be one in which you prepare yourselves as the manger in which the Christ child will be placed.  Our answer to how can God be with us; is that He can be with us by being manifested in us.

We know that the magi will offer to God, gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  The earth will offer a cave, the heavens a star, the animal kingdom sheep and the ox and ass.  Yet we could ask, what about you, what will you offer?  Once again we find our answer in the story itself of His birth, we offer one of our own, Mary.  Thus mankind offers itself as a resting place for God and a vehicle for His entrance into the world.

In imitating this great mystery the time of Advent is a time to prepare ourselves as a true resting place for God and a means for His entrance into creation.  Amen.

*The icon of the Nativity of Christ was found here