Christmas at St. Nicholas
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 22
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.
Saturday, December 23, 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.
6 PM–Great Vespers
Sunday, December 24, The Nativity of Christ
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.
6 PM–Festal Vespers
Monday, December 25
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.
10 AM–Divine Liturgy