As the distractions of the secular Christmas celebrations died down and after the fireworks of the New Years passed, the Star of Bethlehem became brighter, shining a way to the New Born Baby, the Saviour, the Emmanuel. The one who remained with us.
Celebrated by the old calendar on the 7th of January – the Orthodox Christmas time, this is where the star of Bethlehem brought me this year! And this was the only place I could have ever wanted to be. Unified with prayer in song and struggle with my brothers and sisters in Christ we prayed well into the night.
Having a restless heart, I search for answers and peace – just like so many others do. But here is where time no longer works the same, the liturgical songs transport me to another place, where words are not needed because I am known fully; and emotions are at rest because I am loved deeply.
Trying to describe the depth of love and truth I find in the Orthodox Church is impossible. It is hard to believe I was elsewhere before. Because in a special way I feel like I found my home here. As if I had always been a part of this spirituality and tradition.
On this path though I do find there are more guidelines to help direct my heart to what really matters. Following them, things like fasting and regular prayer causes more struggle. But accepting struggle as a necessity for my soul, changes the attitude and helps remain firmly attached to what is really important. To desire closeness with God.
In our times there is so much talk about love, so many conflicting points of view. So much confusion about the most simple things.
Knowing that God never changes is a huge relief in this kind of intellectual and emotional chaos. This is also what I find preserved here by tradition and devotion. The values and attitudes that have changed over the years, have also changed the spirituality, preserving the old practice preserves the grace. If that makes any sense. This my experience and discovery.
Every year I ask myself, why did God wished to become human, to endure the weakness of a human body, the temptations, the pain, the desires of the flesh. Was there not an easier way for him to show us the path of Salvation?
And every year I get the answer: his name was Emmanuel, God with us. This means that he did all this in order to remain close to us. So that we are never alone as long as we keep strong in his will.
Celebrating Christmas is also about celebrating the Mother of Christ – our Mother too! The one who not only gave birth but taught him and remained with him showing the model, the way to remain close to God’s will. We all need so much of her assistance.
Thank you Valeriy Malishev for sharing your beautiful music for my blog – a song in Slavonic (old Russian language) commemorating and supplicating the Mother of God and our Mother to intercede for us.
Merry Christmas to all and have a wonderful year! With several trips around the corner I look forward to sharing more in the months to come!