In the Orthodox Church the second day of Christmas is the Synaxis of the Most Holy Theotokos, and we remember her whose womb was more spacious than the heavens, and contained the Uncontainable One. In our diocese most parishes celebrate Christmas according to the Gregorian Calendar, but a couple of parishes that follow Slavic traditions are still in the fast, and will be celebrating "Old Christmas" on 7 January Gregorian.
On 23 December I met Prof Germanos Marani of the Gregorian University in Rome, who came with a proposal for a missiological symposium, and I spent the whole day discussing it with him (there's more about this on my other blog, for those who are interested). On Christmas Eve he joined us for the Vigil Service at the Church of St Nicholas of Japan in Brixton, Johannesburg. We had Great Compline followed by Matins. Though our choir director was conscious of many mistakes, I don't think many other people noticed them, and it was very pleasant.
On Christmas morning I took a couple of families from the Klipfontein View congregation we were involved with last year to the Divine Liturgy at St Nicholas. They had been part of the Tembisa congregation, and we used to take them to the services there, but the priest who is now in charge there doesn't have a big enough car to take them. Someone sometimes gives them a lift to St Thomas's Serbian Church in Sunninghill, but the services there are all in Slavonic or Serbian, so it was nice for them to have an English service for a change. There were several other visitors, including old parishioners who have moved away, like the Kilner family, now living in England, but who came home to visit family for Christmas. A new visitor was Reader John Burnett, originally from the USA, but who has been working in East Africa, and who has now come to work in our diocese. I've been in contact with him by e-mail before, and through reading his blog, and look forward to getting to know him and possibly working with him.
We came home and had Christmas dinner -- roast turkey, gem squash, cauliflour cheese and roast potatoes -- a nice way to break the fast.
Come, let us greatly rejoice in the Lord,
as we sing of this present mystery:
the wall which divided God from man has been destroyed;
the flaming sword withdraws from Eden’s gate;
the Cherubim withdraw from the Tree of Life;
and I, who had been cast out through my disobedience,
now feast on the delights of Paradise:
for today the Father’s perfect Image,
marked with the stamp of His eternity,
has taken the form of a servant.
Without undergoing change He is born from an unwedded mother;
He was true God, and He remains the same,
but through His love for mankind,
He has become what He never was: true man.
Come, O faithful, let us cry to Him:
“O God, born of the Virgin, have mercy on us!”
Today the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent One,
And the earth offers a cave to the Unapproachable One!
Angels with shepherds glorify Him!
The wise men journey with a star!
Since for our sake the Eternal God was born as a Little Child!