Christmas Day. December 25
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Christmas Day. The Nativity of our Lord. angel to shepherds

(The Collect of the Day, Epistle and Gospel Readings and a Meditation are found here.)

COLLECT OF THE DAY 
ALMIGHTY God, who hast given us thy only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and as at this time to be born of a pure virgin; Grant that we being regenerate, and made thy children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by thy Holy Spirit; through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.
(This Collect is to be said daily throughout the Octave)

THE EPISTLE  Hebrews i. 112
GOD, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the first-begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: they shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.

 

THE GOSPEL St. John i. 1–14
IN the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,  and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will or man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

 

Meditation
Here Christ was Born

TRADITION makes the Saviour’s birth a time of universal peace. The temple of Janus was closed. The Roman legions pushed not on to foreign conquest. Throughout the empire the din of war had ceased. No storm or tempest raged. The starlit heavens bent close to earth, as if to share the gladness of the world.

In the imperial capital were the revels and orgies of the Saturnalia, the feasting and entertainments of the brilliant pageants of the court. Not in the palace of the Palatine, nor by the mighty, nor the proud, nor the wise, was heard the Christmas message. It was humble shepherds in the still watches of the night who caught the sound of angels singing:

“Peace on earth to men of good will!”

And so to-day for those alone who have the love, the joy, which are made the conditions of the heavenly proclamation, has Christmas a vital significance. The lesson of the holy day is self-giving. That surely was the central truth twenty centuries ago, when God gave His divinest gift in the Child of Bethlehem, and down through the years He has claimed as our highest privilege and duty the service of our lives. Help to the needy, sympathy for the distressed, uplifting of the degraded, bring a Christmas joy transcending the vying of friends in the exchange of costly presents.

 What a meaning to Christmas if we can say, “Here in our soul Christ is born to-day.” May Christmas be to us the birth of the soul’s life, which shall grow more and more into the likeness of the divine.

But the vital thought of Christmas is something more than the historical Christ, something more than the theologic Christ; it is the personal Christ born in the hearts of men.

This brings rest amid unrest, joy amid sorrow, hope amid despair.

Christmas is more than Christmas greetings, and the exchange of happy gifts, the reunion of the near and dear under the roof of the old home, more than Christmas collects, more than Christmas anthems, more than Christmas sermons, more than white vestments of joy.

Christmas is the birth of Jesus in our souls, the birth of the Christ of love, of the Christ of purity, of the Christ of truth, of the Christ of gentleness, of the Christ of forgiveness, of the Christ of beauty. 

The Christmas lesson is God’s supreme gift, the gift of Himself.

The world does not so much need the giving of our money or our sympathy as it needs and asks for the giving of ourselves, our life.

by Herbert Cusing Tolman. Edited. From the Christi Imago.
Thoughts for the Sundays in the Christian Year.1915.

 

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