Orthodox Life Sunday bulletin

Ecumenical Patriarchate

Orthodox Metropolitanate of Hong Kong and South East Asia

Sunday Before Nativity

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Sunday Before Nativity


Mode: Fifth

Readings: 1) John 20:11-18 2) Hebrews 11:9-10; 32-40 3) Matthew 1:1-25

Saints: On December 23, we commemorate the holy Ten Martyrs who witnessed in Crete.

On this day we also commemorate our devout father Paul, Archbishop of Neocesaria, one of the 318 holy fathers of the First Council in Nicea.

On this day was the consecration of the holy Great Church of Christ.

On this day we commemorate our holy and God-bearing father Nahum the wonder-worker, the enlightener and preacher of Bulgaria.

St. Schinon the Martyr died by the sword.

On this day, the Sunday before the Nativity of Christ, we have been enjoined by our holy and God-bearing Fathers to commemorate all those who from the beginning of time were well-pleasing to God, from Adam to Joseph the Betrothed of the Most Holy Theotokos, according to the genealogy, as the Evangelist Luke enumerated in historical order; and also the Prophets and Prophetesses.

By their holy intercessions, O God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.

The Hymns of the Day

Resurrectional Apolytikion. (Mode 5)

Let us worship the Word who is unoriginate with the Father and the Spirit, and from a Virgin was born for our salvation, O believers, and let us sing His praise. For in His goodness He was pleased to ascend the Cross in the flesh, and to undergo death, and to raise up those who had died, by His glorious Resurrection.

Apolytikion of the Forefeast. (Mode 4)

O Bethlehem, prepare, Eden is opened unto all. And be ready, Ephrata, for the Tree of life has in the grotto blossomed forth from the Virgin. Indeed her womb is shown to be spiritually a Paradise, in which is found the God-planted Tree. And if we eat from it we shall live, and shall not die, as did Adam of old. Christ is born, so that He might raise up the formerly fallen image.

Apolytikion of the Fathers (Mode 2)

Magnificent are the accomplishments of faith! The holy Three Servants greatly rejoiced, as they stood in the fountain of fire, as if beside the still waters; and the Prophet Daniel appeared to be a shepherd of lions, as if they were sheep. At their entreaties, O Christ God, save our souls.

Kontakion. (Mode 3)

On this day the Virgin Maid goes to the grotto to give birth to the pre-eternal Word in an ineffable manner. Dance for joy, all the inhabited earth, on hearing. Glorify along with Angels and with the shepherds Him who willed that He appear as a newborn Child, the pre-eternal God.

Matins Gospel

John 20:11-18

At that time, Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb, and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus has lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him." Saying this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?" Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, "Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away." Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, "Rabboni," which means Teacher. Jesus said to her, "Do not touch Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, I am ascending to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God." Mary Magdalene went and said to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord," and she told them that He had said these things to her.

The Epistle

Hebrews 11:9-10;32-40

Brethren, by faith Abraham sojourned in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked forward to the city which has foundation, whose builder and maker is God. And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, received promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and scourging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were killed with the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, ill-treated—of whom the world was not worthy—wandering over deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, though well attested by their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had foreseen something better for us,that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

The Gospel

Matthew 1:1-25

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Ammin′adab, and Ammin′adab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Bo′az by Rahab, and Bo′az the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uri′ah, and Solomon the father of Rehobo′am, and Rehobo′am the father of Abi′jah, and Abi′jah the father of Asa, and Asa the father of Jehosh′aphat, and Jehosh′aphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzzi′ah, and Uzzi′ah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezeki′ah, and Hezeki′ah the father of Manas′seh, and Manas′seh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josi′ah, and Josi′ah the father of Jechoni′ah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon. And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoni′ah was the father of Sheal′tiel, and Sheal′tiel the father of Zerub′babel, and Zerub′babel the father of Abi′ud, and Abi′ud the father of Eli′akim, and Eli′akim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eli′ud, and Eli′ud the father of Elea′zar, and Elea′zar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ. So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations. The Birth of Jesus the Messiah Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emman′uel" (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife, but knew her not until she had borne a son; and he called his name Jesus.

Saint of the Day

Sunday Before Nativity

On the Sunday that occurs on or immediately after the eighteenth of this month, we celebrate all those who from ages past have been well-pleasing to God, beginning from Adam even unto Joseph the Betrothed of the Most Holy Theotokos, according to genealogy, as the Evangelist Luke hath recorded historically (Luke 3:23-38); we also commemorate the Prophets and Prophetesses, and especially the Prophet Daniel and the Holy Three Children.

The Sunday Before the Nativity

by V.Rev.Timothy Baclig

Each year, on the Sunday before Christmas in all Orthodox Churches we hear the genealogy of Jesus, recorded at the beginning of Saint Matthew’s Gospel (1:1-25). It is actually one of two genealogies on Jesus presented by the Gospel writers in the New Testament of the Bible. The other is found in the Gospel of Saint Luke. In St. Luke’s Gospel, however, the genealogical list is in reverse order, beginning with Jesus and ending with Adam. Each Gospel writer had his own reason for presenting a linage. In fact, the names included in one Gospel, as well as those that were not included in the other, were intentional choices by each writer for the purpose of making a point.

St. Matthew’s genealogy is chosen because it reveals that Christ truly became a man, taking on our nature. We hear from the text of the Synaxarion: “He was not a ghost, an apparition, a myth, a distant imagined god, or the abstract god of philosophers; such a god does not have a family tree. Our God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He has flesh and blood, human ancestors—many of whom sinned greatly, like David, who also repented greatly.”

The value of the genealogies lies not in their legal or historical accuracy but rather in their spiritual meaning, they place an emphasis upon the fact that Christ did in fact become a man, but they also demonstrate the fulfillment of God’s plan of salvation. Man’s failure did not mean that it was all over.

Unique to the genealogy of Jesus in St. Matthew’s gospel is that women are included, while in St. Luke’s Gospel, they are not. In fact, one of the women mentioned, whose name is Rahab, was a Gentile prostitute. The list also includes: Thamar, who committed incest, Ruth a Gentile, and even the adulteress, Bathsheba. David is mentioned, who not only committed murder, but was also an adulterer. St. Matthew intentionally demonstrates that the Lord’s incarnation was the fulfillment of God’s plan of salvation. By being born a man in human flesh, the Lord completely identified with the human race, with men and women of flesh and blood, failings and all. And this is what Christmas is all about.

Again from the text of the Synaxarion we hear: “By taking on human nature, the Son of God became like us in all ways, in flesh and blood, in mind and soul, and in heart and will. He differed from us in only one way: He did not sin. Since we know that Christ’s human nature remained sinless, He is also fully divine, and He shows us the way in which we can avoid sin, and so improve and transform our human nature.”

St. John Chrysostom says that Christ was not embarrassed by the skeletons hidden in His ancestors’ closets. The conclusion of the genealogy is the beginning of a new generation – the age of the Messiah – and we are part of it as Christians. The age of preparation and promise is over; the fullness of time has arrived – a new age of completion and fulfillment. Very shortly we will celebrate what is the culmination of this wondrous season: It is the Great Feast of Holy Theophany: The baptism of our Lord by John in the River Jordan. It is the Feast which is the full revelation of God as Trinity: the Divine Son of God as the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, the decent of the Holy Spirit and the confirming word of God the Father.



The Orthodox Celebration of Christmas


Blessed Sunday!

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