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St. Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews 10:32-38
Brethren, recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to abuse and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on the prisoners, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that you may do the will of God and receive what is promised. “For yet a little while, and the coming one shall come and shall not tarry; but my righteous one shall live by faith.”
At that time, Jesus and his disciples came to Capernaum, and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they were silent; for on the way they had discussed with one another who was the greatest. And he sat down and called the twelve; and he said to them, “If any one would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” And he took a child, and put him in the midst of them; and taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.” John said to him, “Teacher, we saw a man casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not forbid him; for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon after to speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is for us. For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ, will by no means lose his reward.”
Saints & Feasts
Forefeast of the Nativity of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Ignatius the God-Bearer, Bishop of Antioch, Our Righteous Father Philogonius, Bishop of Antioch, Holy Father John of Kronstadt, John the New Martyr of Thassos
The Forefeast of the Nativity of the Lord begins on December 20.
From now on, most of the liturgical hymns will be concerned with the birth of the Savior. Many of the Church’s hymns of this period are slightly modified versions of the hymns of Holy Week.
From the 20th to the 23rd we sing the Troparion (Tone 4) “Prepare, O Bethlehem, for Eden has been opened to all. Adorn yourself, O Ephratha, for the Tree of Life blossoms forth from the Virgin in the cave. Her womb is a spiritual paradise planted with the fruit divine; if we eat of it we shall live forever and not die like Adam. Christ is coming to restore the image which He made in the beginning.”
We also sing the Kontaion (Tone 3) “Today the Virgin comes to the cave where she will give birth past understanding to the Word from all eternity. Rejoice, O universe, when the tidings are proclaimed. Glorify, with the angels and shepherds, the one Who chose to be manifest as a newborn Child, while remaining the eternal God.”
At Vespers on this first day of the prefeast we sing, “Let us celebrate, O people, the prefeast of Christ’s Nativity; let us raise our minds on high, in spirit going up to Bethlehem….”
Fast Day (Wine and Oil Allowed)