“What shall we offer You, O Christ?”
Christ is Born!—Glorify Him!
Christ is indeed born, and we praise and glorify His Holy Nativity. However, by the time we hear the Gospel reading of Christmas Day (Mt. 2:1-12), we realize that Christ’s birth is already behind us. The passage is about the events following the Lord’s birth, chiefly the account of king Herod and the Magi. The actual account of the birth of Christ is heard in the Morning Gospel of the Orthros (Matins) service. What most of us perhaps do not know is that on Christmas Day we celebrate not only the Nativity of the Lord, but the adoration of the Magi as well. This double celebration is very ancient. Several hymns address this story (Hypacoe, Kathisma, Canon, etc.). The following reflections address this event.
1. It would be wise on our part to do what the wise men did, namely as they went from the East to worship the newborn King, so let us also, who are from the West, draw near and worship Him. Let us reflect briefly on it. Many people worshipped the Lord. Some did so after He performed a great miracle, others after His Resurrection from the dead. But these wise men worshipped Him before they knew anything about Him.
The emphasis in “worship Him” is on “Him.” Let us not follow those who “exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creation rather than the Creator” (Rom. 1:25). If God could lead astrologers from their deception to Him, we too can turn away from today’s idols: the worship of science and technology. Our prized intelligence should not hinder us from recognizing in this lowly, frail creature the Creator of all, and adore Him. Let us then, who know better, glorify Him.
2. The wise men were glad when they saw the star, which led them to “the place where the child was.” How glad were they? “They rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.” That seems to indicate they were pretty happy, wouldn’t you say? What of us? Our hearts also rejoice at the birth of the Savior of the world. He is the source of our happiness, our cause of joy. Let these thoughts be directed to the Son of God, Who, out of love for us, “became man,” to redeem us.
3. It would also be quite appropriate to do as the wise men did, who “presented gifts to Him.” With their precious gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh they honored Christ as King (gold), Priest (frankincense) and Prophet (myrrh). St. Nikolai of Zica points out that the gifts of the wise men express that which lasts: “After a thousand years, gold still shines, incense burns and myrrh keeps its fragrance.” Let us also offer Him our gift.
This time of the year is about exchanging gifts, isn’t it? It started with the Magi. What do we do when we don’t quite know what to give to someone we love? Some people give cash, or a gift certificate to a clothing store or bookstore. I think nothing is more appreciated than something we ourselves have made. But who has time for such things any more? Walmart is quicker, cheaper (less costly) and more convenient. The question still remains: What shall we offer to Christ?
This year let us present to the Divine Infant our own gifts, our very personal gifts. What might they be? Let us offer to Him our change of life, our renewed spirit, our love and forgiveness for each other, and our complete devotion to Christ our God.
Have a blessed Nativity Season.
This text originally appeared in the December 2008 edition of The True Vine, the monthly newsletter of St. Luke Greek Orthodox Church, Columbia, MO.
Article graphics and editing: Tony Hatzidakis