A Note on the Nativity of our Lord: Christmas Day
The Lectionary provides three sets of readings for the Eucharist at the Midnight, in the Early Morning, and during the day on Christmas. With so much material, I do not propose to comment on all the readings, but urge you even more strongly than usual to refer to the notes at the RCL Commentary site from the Diocese of Montreal (see the link at the left).
At St Columba and All Hallows we will be hearing the first set at the earlier family service and the third set, the traditional readings of the Christmas Mass, at Midnight.
In my own preparation for Christmas this year I have been reading some of the Seventeen Sermons on the Nativity by Lancelot Andrewes. In line with the question which I have recommended as a question to ponder in Advent, some passages from Andrewes’ fifth sermon on the Nativity help us to meditate of the Angel’s words to the Shepherds, which declare what Child this is: “To you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord.” I offer you these passages to consider in the last days of preparation for Christmas.
"The Angel addeth farther, 'A Saviour Which is Christ', For many saviours had been born, many had God sent them that at divers times had set them free from divres dangers of their enemies; Moses, from the Egyotians; Joshua, from the Canaanites; Gideon, from the Midianites; Jephtha, from the Ammonites; Sampson, from the Philistines. And indeed, the whole story of the Bible is nothing else but a calendar of saviours that God from time to time still stirred them up.
"But these all were but pety Saviours. there was One yet behind that was worth them all. One that 'should save His people from their sins' (Mat 1.21); save not their bodies for a time, but their souls for ever, which none of those saviours could do.
"And there is yet more particularity in this word Christ: three offices did God from the beginning erect to save his people by; and that by three acts—the very heathen took notice of them—1.Purgare, 2. Illuminare, 3. Perficere. 1. Priests, to purge or expiate; 2. Prophets, to illuminate or direct them; Kings, to set all right, and to keep all right in that perfection which this would admitteth. And all these three had their several anointings. Aaron the Priest (Lev 8,12) Elisha the Prophet (1 Kgs 19.16), saul the King (1 Sam 10.1). In the Saviour which is Christ, His will was all should meet, that nothing in Hum might want to the perfecting of this worl. That He might be a perfect Saviour of all, He was all. “A Priest after the Order of Melchizedek,” (Ps 110..4) a Prophet to be heard when Moses should hold his peace, (Deut 18.18); a King to save His people, 'Whose name should be Jehova Justitia nostra' (The Lord is our righteousness; Jer 23.6). David’s Priest. Moses’ Prophet, Jeremy’s King.
"And these formerly had met double, two of them in some other; Melchizedek, King and Priest; Samuel, Preist and Prophet; David, Prophet and Kimg. Never all three but in Him alone; and so, no Perfect Christ but He; but He all, and so perfect. By His Priesthood to purge, expiate, and 'save us from our sins, being a propitiation to God for them,' (1 John 2,2); by His prophecy to illuminate and save us from the by-paths of error, 'guiding our feet in the way of peace,' (Luke 1.79); by His Kingdom protecting and conducting us through the miseries of this life, till He perfect us eternally by Himself in the joys of His Heavenly Kingdom. Rightly then, 'A Saviour which is Christ.'"
[Lancelot Andrewes; Sermon V on the Nativity, Preached before King James I at Whitehall, on Tuesday the 25th Day of December, AD 1610, being Christmas Day.]
May the Good News of Christmas come to you as new this year, and its joy dwell in you all your days.