Sunday After The Nativity

We give thanks to You!
Every soul and  heart is lifted up to You, undisturbed name,
Honored with the name ‘God’, and praised with the name ‘Father’
For to everyone and everything (comes),
the fatherly kindness and affection and love,
and any teaching there may be that is sweet and plain,
Giving us mind, speech, (and) knowledge:
Mind, so that we may understand You,
Speech, so that we may expound You,
Knowledge, so that we may know You.

We rejoice, having been illuminated by Your knowledge.
We rejoice because You have shown us Yourself.
We rejoice because while we were in (the) body, You have made us divine through Your knowledge.

The thanksgiving of the man who attains to You  is one thing:
That we know You. We have known You, intellectual light.
Life of life, we have known You.
Womb of every creature, we have known You.
Womb pregnant with the nature of the Father, we have known You.

– The Hermetic Prayer of Thanksgiving, Nag Hammadi Library

In Australia, as in many Commonwealth nations, we celebrate the day after Christmas Day as Boxing Day. Custom of uncertain origin in the British Middle Ages suggests that on this day we pack those belongings for which we no longer have use, and pass them onto others in need, in gratitude for all that we presently have.

In this way, on Sunday after the Nativity, one may be instilled with a sense of renewed appreciation for all that is brought forth in that moment of radical transformation, the moment where the light shines through the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome it. With a lightened heart and mind, we can extend this gratitude through our participation in the human experience, bringing grace and revived agility to our contact with others and the world.

The Coming of the Divine Light

The Virgin today brings forth the Superessential, and the earth offers a cave to the Unapproachable. . . . . I behold a Mystery strange and wonderous: the cave is Heaven and the Virgin is the throne of the Cherubim; in the confines of the manger is laid the Infinite.

With such grand vision and lofty words we enter the Collect prayer of the Menaion, taken from the proper for the Greek Orthodox liturgy, celebrated on the 25th December.

The Menaion gives a hint of what we might find is available to us, when we engage in the witnessing the presence of the Divine at this time of year, in the Coming of the Divine Light.

The word ‘Superessential’ in the prayer above is grounded upon the use of the original word ‘hyperousion’, St Dionysius’ peculiar term which describes a space above every conception the mind can form. The Christian tradition holds that at the moment of the Lord’s birth, it was as if all Nature had missed a beat and paused in its course, a moment of universal revelation, spread to all creatures and all places.