Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord in the Flesh
The Feast of the Nativity of our Lord According to the Flesh - otherwise known as "Christmas" in the western Churches - is the celebration of the Birth of our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus the Messiah, born for our Salvation in a Cave in Bethlehem of Judea and laid in a manger.
The primary service for the Feast of the Nativity is the Matins Service on Christmas eve . Here the Gospel reading of the Angels' announcement of the birth of the Christ is proclaimed:
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, 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, good will toward men.
On Christmas Day itself, we also serve Divine Liturgy for the Feast of the Nativity. Then the Gospel reading of the Magi is proclaimed. Before the "major" services of the feast, we also serve the Royal Hours in the morning and the Vesperal Liturgy of St. Basil in the afternoon. In both these latter services, the prophesies of the Coming of the Messiah are proclaimed.
Then we return to our homes for the Holy Supper of Christmas eve (the Traditional Ukrainian festal meal 12 meatless courses). We begin the Holy Supper with the Festal Tropar and before each course is served, we sing one of the traditional Christmas Carols of our Church.
Then we return to Church for the Christmas Eve Service. We begin with
the Great Compline of Christmas and continue with the Matins of the Feast
of the Nativity!
God is with with us, understand all you nations.
And submit, for God is with us!
Give ear, all you distant parts of the earth, for God is with us!
You may arm yourselves, but you shall be crushed, for God is with us!
We do not fear what you fear, we do not stand in dread, for God is with us!
But the LORD of Hosts, honour Him as the Holy; ofr Him be your fear, for God is with us!
Trust in Him and He will be to you as a sanctuary, for God is with us!
Men who walked in darkness have seen a great light, for God is with us!
You dwellers in a land dark as death, a light shine upon you, for God is with us!
For a Child is born to us a Son is given us...
and His Peace shall never end, for God is with us!
At the point of the Polyeleos, the Chanting of Psalms 134 & 135 (the Psalms of Mercy) a second Proclamation takes place with the rite of the Exaltation (the Velychannya or Megalynarion). Here, preceded by the incensation of the deacon, the Priest bears aloft the icon of the Feast and in solemn Procession carries it from the Holy Table out of the Altar to the Ambo for the veneration of the Faithful. And the Festal Exaltation is sung:
We extol You, O Christ, the Giver of Life,
The Nativity Festal Tropar
Your Nativity, O Christ our God
The Nativity Festal Kondak
Today the Virgin gives birth to Him
During the Service, at the Litiya, bread, wine, wheat, and blessed and offered up and then distributed amongst the Faithful.
Today the Virgin gives birth to the Maker of all.
At the Veneration of the Icon and the Gospel, the Faithful are annointed with Holy Oil and greeting with the salutation of the Nativity Feast: "Christ is Born!" to which they respond: "Glorify Him!"
The Kanon of the Nativity Feast:
Fr. Roman Galadza