December 2023

Dear Beloved in the Lord,

I remember as a young child anticipating Christmas morning with an excitement and energy that only a child seems to have the capacity to express. There is a wonder at the mystery of the wrapped gifts under the tree. The different colors, shapes and sizes fuel the imagination of what could be. Many other customs added to both the anticipation and the hopefulness of this Feast. Sitting at night with only the twinkle of the warm glow from the lights adorning the tree, the smell of wassail filling the air from the stovetop in the kitchen, the luminaries acting as a guide up the walkway to the front door of our home, carols sung around the house or being played on the stereo. All of these brought an importance to this season and were a part of the buildup to the actual day. As a child, when that day came, it was difficult to stay in bed until the morning light because of my excitement. Even so much so, that one year, my parents gave way to my eagerness, and we opened gifts in the middle of the night.

This experience filled with the wonder, excitement, and hope that it was, is a taste and a mere shadow of the experience of mankind awaiting the coming of our Savior in the flesh. Humanity and even all of creation had been hoping and anticipating the coming of its creator to bring healing and peace. St. Simeon personifies this anticipation as he personally waited for the arrival of the Savior for over three hundred years and finally taking the young child in his arms he proclaims the beautiful words, “Lord now lettest thou Thy servant depart in peace according to Thy word. For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation. Which Thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples. A Light to enlighten the Gentiles and the glory of Thy people Israel.”

None of this is manufactured feelings of excitement, nor an abstract hope in the coming of some political ideology, nor is it an ascent to a rational supposition that will free us from our darkness. It is the experience of a world lost in the darkness of sin and death and hoping that one day light will shine forth. Each of us has experienced some level of this reality in our lives. Only hoping for the moment that a ray of light will shine forth in the darkness of our circumstance or even into the depths of our heart.

During this season the Church helps to guide along this path of anticipating that Light to come. Turning our hearts to Christ, not allowing the darkness to steal away our hope but even with the disposition of a child, waking before the dawn light, eagerly awaiting with wonder, the great gift that is to come, which is Christ Himself, our Savior, our Redeemer, and our Peace!

Prepare, O Bethlehem, for Eden has been opened to all! Adorn yourself, O Ephratha, for the tree of life blossoms forth from the Virgin in the cave! Her womb is a spiritual paradise planted with the Divine Fruit: If we eat of it, we shall live forever and not die like Adam. Christ comes to restore the image which He made in the beginning! --Troparion of the Forefeast of the Nativity of Christ

Christ is born! Glorify Him!

With Aloha in Christ,
Fr. Benjamin