Be Born In Us Today

Nativity-Perugino.jpg

Christmas is a festive and joyous season.  It is a time to celebrate the light of the world coming to dispel the darkness.  The Season of Christmas begins on December 25 and lasts until Epiphany on January 6.

The Christmas "Season," unfortunately, has been widely misunderstood.  The commercialization of Christmas has created a distorted view of this season.  Today, Christmas is popularly believed to end, not begin, on December 25, taking away the impact and importance of not only Advent, but also the feast following Christmas, Epiphany.  In fact, the Season of Christmas traditionally begins on December 25 and lasts for twelve days.  “On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me a partridge in a pear tree.”[1]  It’s more than an entertaining song to sing.  It is a historical understanding of the Christmas season and evidence that at some point in time Christmas truly was celebrated as twelve days, not just one.[2]

The primary meaning of Christmas is not only that we celebrate Christ born in Bethlehem, but Christ crucified, risen and returning...and Christ born in us.  This perspective invites Christmas to be a very important time in our spiritual lives.  The fact that God became man – the Word became Flesh – gives us an opportunity to be united with God.  Because Jesus was united to God, we, through our union with Jesus in faith are united with God.  Our spiritual lives are formed and we experience unity with the Triune God.

 

About the Art:

"Nativity" by Pietro Perugino (1450-1523)

Italian Renaissance artist Perugino helped to develop some of the qualities that find classical expression in High Renaissance.  Renaissance painter Raphael was his most famous pupil.  Perugino's take on the nativity is now located in the Art Institute of Chicago.

 

About the Music:

The carol "O Little Town of Bethlehem" has one of my favorite verses in all of Christian hymnody: O holy Child of Bethlehem; descend to us, we pray; Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today.

Those lines are so powerful as we consider that the God of heaven condescended - not only to interact with his creation, but to redeem it (us) from all wrong.

I thoroughly enjoy Fernando Ortega's music and his Christmas arrangements are no exception.  His version of "O Little Town of Bethlehem" is one of my favorite alternate arrangements of this song.

 

[1] The Twelve Days of Christmas (c)1909 by Novello and Company Limited.

[2] The origin for the twelve days of Christmas lies in the early church.  The early Christians of the East celebrated the birth of Christ on January 6.  In the West, Christians began to celebrate Christmas on December 25.  Eventually these two dates came to bookend the Christmas season with the celebration of the birth of Jesus on December 25 representing the beginning of the festival and the celebration of the manifestation of Christ to the world through the visit of the magi on January 6 (Epiphany) representing the end of the Christmas festival.