中文 | Orthodox_China Yahoo! group | Aug 20, 2000
English Translation by Seraphim Lim
The account of the
Incarnation of our Lord
NATIVITY SERMON by the Cathedral Archpriest MICHAEL MING
in St Innokentiy Cross Church.

Our Lord Jesus, Son of God, was to be born into the world to save the world, so he chose a virtuous and kind-hearted Virgin Mary, as His mother. Because Mary's parents sincerely believed in God, they presented her to the Temple. From the age of three, she entered the Temple and was raised there; by the age of fourteen, she had become a holy woman full of virtue, and she vowed before God to remain a virgin and not marry. The priest saw that she was alone and helpless, so he picked Joseph as her husband, a just and righteous man who was eighty years of age, so that her chastity would be safeguarded. So, the holy Virgin Mary moved from the Temple to live in the home of Joseph of Nazareth.

One day, an angel brought a message: “You will conceive and bear a Child, who is the Son of God, our Savior Christ.” At that time, Joseph did not know it was a Mystery of God, and seeing that she was with child, he became suspicious and was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be perplexed by her Conception, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth the Son of God, and you shall call His name Jesus.” (Matthew 1:19-21) Because of this, Joseph obeyed God's will.

It was the 5508th year from Creation when Mary was about to give birth to the Child. And it came to pass in those days that for the first time a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. So, the holy Virgin Mary and Joseph went up to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem to be registered. (Luke 2:1-5) The time was coming close for the Theotokos to give birth; she nevertheless did not go against the Emperor's orders. She undertook the difficult journey, braving hardships and arriving safely by sundown at the town after traveling for three days. The inns were full of travellers on their way to register. The innkeeper declined to offer them a room, seeing that they were poor. Subsequently, they found a cave near the town, used by shepherds on nightwatch.

Joseph took Mary and bedded down there for the night. That night, the Baby Jesus was born there. The Theotokos wrapped the Child in her swaddling cloth and placed Him in the manger.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy. For there is born to you this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:8-14).

After the singing, as the shepherds looked again, the angels had disappeared. The night was silent and there was no one around. They felt the fearsome awe of the angelic apparition, but were joyful and thankful at the glad tidings of the Lord's birth. Together, they came with haste to the hillside into the cave, and saw a bright light shining, and found the Child wrapped in swaddling cloth lying in the manger, and they respectfully prostrated and bowed down. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. (Luke 2:15)

At that time, there were Wise Men from East of Judaea who were knowledgeable in astronomy and ancient writings. When they saw a bright star in the East, they interpreted it from their great learning to be a sign of the birth of the Lord. They rode on camels, bringing along gifts to Judaea, inquiring, “Where is he who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” This news spread across the kingdom and word got around quickly. When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. Then he invited the wise men to his palace and told them to go and search for the young Child, and to bring back word to him when they had found Him, so that he too might come and worship Him. When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the cave, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshipped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold and frankincense and myrrh. When the wise men completed their homage, they stayed at the city's inn for the night. It was while they were there, that they were divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod. And so they departed for their own country by another way. (Matthew 2:2-12)

The Incarnation of our Lord, the Son of God, is to save us from our sins. This is indeed a Miracle over which the whole word should rejoice. Come let us bow down and worship, so that we may be granted His grace and salvation! Amen!

Respectfully written by Protopresbyter Luo, Russian Orthodox Metropolitanate, Beijing.