Christmas at St. Nicholas

The christmas ceremony in the orthodox Russian Church of Maria Magdalene in the foot of Mount of Olives in Jerusalem on January 6, 2008. This Russian church is dedicated to Miriam from Migdal (Maria Magdalene), who was a prostitute that reformed and turned into Jesus' follower. Maria was the first to see Christ after she was resurrected. Though she was very close to Jesus, she was never recognized by Christianity as one of the Apostles. Photo by Anna Kaplan/ Flash90

The following services give us the opportunity to enter fully into the reality of the birth of the Savior and the hope with which it fills our lives. The liturgical celebration mirrors that of Holy Week, as we celebrate the salvation which begins at His Birth and culminates in His saving Passion, Death, and Resurrection as celebrated in Holy Week and Pascha.  The schedule and content of those services is as follows:

Friday, December 24The Nativity of Christ

9 AM–Royal Hours
This service of keeping watch (vigil) calls us to be “at attention” as soldiers keeping their shifts. The First, Third, Sixth and Ninth Hours are read consecutively, and comprise a reflection on the coming of Christ, centering on four readings from the Gospel.

The Paramon (“day of preparation”) of the Feast of Christmas
Our 40-day period of preparation known as the Nativity Fast (or Advent) culminates on this final day of preparation. We conclude our spiritual preparation by receiving the One whom we worship, offered to us in Holy Communion.

5 PM–Vesperal Liturgy
We begin to celebrate the Birth of our Lord on the Eve of the Feast. The normal Vespers service is augmented with Old Testament Prophecies and the singing of Psalm verses, offered in conjunction with the Angels. We bless the five loaves of Artoklasia, and intercede for the whole world, and all those in it in need of God’s mercy and help.

Saturday, December 25, The Nativity of Christ

The Day has arrived! The Matins service is filled with angelic praise to Emmanuel (“God with us”) and we transition seamlessly from the final hymn of Matins into the Divine Liturgy, joining the Angels in singing “Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth, peace, good will toward men!” We experience our own communal and personal Feast of the Nativity, as Christ is born in our hearts through receiving His Body and Blood in Holy Communion.

8:30 AM–Orthros

10 AM–Divine Liturgy