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Christmas Worship and Service of the Fire Flames.

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  • Jose Kurian Puliyeril
    The extra service for the Christmas is the procession and the service at the pit of fire.. The pit will be arranged in the shape of a cross on the western
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 24, 2003
      The extra service for the Christmas is the procession
      and the service at the pit of fire.. The pit will be
      arranged in the shape of a cross on the western side
      of the Church. In some of our Churches, there are
      permanent pits with cover. Procession of each feast
      day has its own significance and meaning. The procession
      on the Christmas day is to remember the arrival of
      the shepherds as well as the wise men from the East
      to the manger. During the procession on Christmas day
      each faithful must identify himself/herself with the
      shepherds and the wise men who reached the manger on
      foot Soon on incarnation of our Lord, the angels and
      hosts of Heaven reached there as procession, chanting
      praises and praises to God. All these instances are to
      be there in the minds of the faithful when they would
      take part in the processions.

      The service at the pit of fire is an unavoidable part
      of the Christmas worship since so many years. The fire
      is the representation of God�s presence. Moses met God
      for the first time while God appeared in the burning
      bush. Fire destroys all unholy materials forever. Fire
      purifies materials and metals. Fire shines and gives
      light Fire eradicates darkness and provides protection
      from cold. (In early days our faithful used to take away
      the ash to spread in the paddy fields and other
      cultivation after the Christmas worship) The special
      worship of Christmas is conducted soon on completion of
      the midnight prayers. Both Gents and children move out
      of the Church first, followed by the celebrant, clergy
      and the altar assistants and ladies and moves towards the
      western part of the Church and waits around the pit of
      fire. The celebrant reads out the prescribed passage from
      the Holy Gospel for the day, soon after the reading of
      the Epistles by the Altar Assistants. When the reading
      comes to �Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth�,
      the celebrant poses for a while and allows the congregation
      to repeat the �praise� uttered by him, in loud voice. The
      congregation as a whole repeats this for three times. Then
      the celebrant sets fire to the firewood and the dry palm
      leaves dedicated by the faithful (We are supposed to bring
      back the palm leaves of the previous Palm Sunday as well as
      the damaged/torn holy books (if any) and must be deposited
      in the pit before entering the Church for attending the
      worship) As soon as the fire is on, the congregation goes
      around the pit in the leadership of the celebrant and the
      team from chancel, three times, reciting the praise
      �Halleluiah Hallelujah Hallelujah, Daivame ninakku sthuthi�.�
      And the prayer �Athunnathangalil swargeeya Malakkamar
      sthuthikkunnathu pole��We praise thee our God as the angels
      praise thee in the highest Heaven � (The so called praise
      of the Angels) This is the time to submit the incense to
      the fire. (Due to the heat we cannot come close to the fire
      and deposit our offering, still it should be done with some
      sort of discipline) We are doing this as the submission of
      presents to Infant Jesus by the wise men. Following this
      all enter the Church and continues the Holy Eucharist.

      We must make the note of the special meaning of the
      firewood; we use in the pit of fire, in addition to
      the dry palm leaves. In our native place, we used to
      take out the parasites on the trees (locally it is
      called �itthil Kanni�) and dry them for use days
      before the Christmas. It has a symbolic meaning. The
      parasites destroying the trees and plants must be
      destroyed and likewise all parasites in our spiritual
      lives are also to be destroyed.

      Jose Kurian Puliyeril.
      St. George Orthodox Church
      Abu Dhabi
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