Sunday Before Nativity

Icon of the Nativity of Christ

Cave prepare, for the Ewe Lamb comes bearing Christ in her womb; Manger receive him who with a word has loosed us born of earth from irrational action. Shepherds abiding in the fields, bear witness to a fearful wonder; Magi from Persia, offer the King gold, frankincense and myrrh; for the Lord has appeared from a Virgin mother. Bending over him like a slave, his Mother worshipped him and addressed him as he lay in her arms: How were you sown in me? How have you grown in me, my Redeemer and my God?

All creation rejoices, O Virgin, at your child-bearing; for Bethlehem has opened Eden to us; and see, we all enjoy the tree of life as we cry insistently: Master, fulfil our entreaties!

Strange, wonderful and dread mysteries! The Lord of glory came to earth, and as a beggar in a cave he put on flesh, seeking to call back Adam, and to deliver Eve from her pains.

By your swaddling bands you loose the cords of offences, while by your poverty, O Compassionate, you make all rich. Laid in manger for unreasoning beasts, you free mortals from irrational wickedness, O Word of God ever without beginning.

The proclamations of the Prophets have come to their end, for he whom they prophesied would come at the consummation of the years, has came, has appeared, embodied of a pure Virgin. Let us receive him with pure minds.

A strange and wonderful mystery I see, the Cave is heaven, the Virgin the Cherubim throne, the manger the place in which Christ, the God whom nothing can contain, is laid. Him we praise and magnify.

Text translated by Archimandrite Ephrem.


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