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The Feast of Incarnation

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  • Thomas P
    Christmas is the feast of Nativity. Nativity means the time of one s birth or place of origin . It is about the time and place of Mother delivering a child.
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 23, 2003
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      Christmas is the feast of Nativity. Nativity means
      'the time of one's birth' or 'place of origin'.
      It is about the time and place of Mother delivering
      a child. Christmas is the feast of nativity of Christ.

      Many consider that the feast of nativity is same the
      feast of Incarnation of God the Word. As a result,
      people think birth occurs in delivery. Hence the
      associated modern practises of stopping life before
      delivery. In reality birth occurs in conception.
      Hence it is difficult to find out the actual birthday
      of a person.

      But in the case of St. Mary, the date of conception
      is known. It occured when the angel announced the
      Incarnation of the Lord in her womb, the annunciation
      given by the angel Mar Gabriel to St. Mary.

      "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be
      to me as you have said." Then the angel left her.
      [Luke 1:38]

      When teaching about Christ, Church fathers consider
      annunciation as the point of Incarnation. The teaching
      of St. Severus about Christ is based on Incarnation,
      that the union of divine and human natures happened
      at this point. After this union, they preached one Christ.

      Some Churches give more importance to Ephipany than
      Nativity (Christmas), for example Ethiopian and Armenian
      Churches. They celebrate Nativity and Ephipany on
      consequtinve days beginning January 6th. Nativity is
      birth in body and Epiphany (Baptism) is birth in Spirit.
      Therefore, Church gave more importance to Epiphany.

      "Armenian Catholicos John Mandakuni (AD 720) bears
      witness to this fact that Armenian Christians never
      separated the feasts as one according to the flesh
      and the other as according to the spirit".

      Armenians celebrate a combined feast on Januray 6th.

      But Xmas on Dec. 25 is more popular in Westernized
      churches. The date Dec. 25 originated from a
      pre-Christian western feast day. Yet, no one questions
      it. But when a function of relatively much less
      importance called "Vidyarambam" was celebrated on the
      same day as Hindus, many westernized Evangelicals
      questioned it! What is the reason for this contradiction!

      Malankara Orthodox/Jacobite Syrian Church adopted
      this new calendar only in the 20th century. As a
      result, the importance is now on Nativity (Xmas) on
      Dec. 25 and associated festivities. Epiphany,
      Annunciation etc. are almost ignored by people. Even
      the feast of Martyrdom of St. Thomas is largely
      ignored due to various Xmas programs, such as E
      cumenical carols, parish celebrations etc.

      Christian churches are getting westernized very fast!

      In India, Central government recently made a
      decision that for Central Schools, Christmas holiday
      will be on January 7th. The Dec. 25 holiday is taken
      out.

      Perhaps this is a good point to go back to the old
      calendar and hence remain consistent with rest of
      Orthodox Churches. Should we offer our support
      to the central government?

      What reform can we do regarding this?

      Coming back to the point, March 25th marked as "Subroro"
      in the calendar is the feast of Incarnation or the
      feast of Annunciation of St. Mary. This feast is of
      high importance in all Orthodox Churches (both
      Eastern and Oriental). HOly Qurbana is not allowed on
      Good Friday. But if this feast falls on Good Friday,
      the Church first celebrate Holy Qurbana, only after
      that the Good Froday services. In Eastern Orthodox
      Churches, they relax fasting on this day, since this
      is a great feast.

      To summarize, the feast of Incarnation is not
      Christmas or Nativity. It is 'Suboro' or the
      Annunciation to St. Mary. Birth occurs not in delivery,
      but in conception.

      Secondly, the Church leaders should consider the
      current laxity in observing some of the importance
      feasts such as Annunciation, Epiphany etc. Though
      they are celebrated, they are not stressed as
      important as Xmas today. As a result people consider
      them as less important. It is difficult to blame
      people regarding this.

      Wish you a very Happy Christmas!

      Thomas P
      st. Mary/St. George Orthodox Church, Thumpamon
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