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Let the righteous then rejoice in the Lord, and let the hearts of believers turn to God’s praise, and the sons of men confess His wondrous acts; since in this work of God especially our humble estate realizes how highly its Maker values it — St. Leo the Great, Sermon XXIV on the Nativity

Meditate on this quote for awhile. Understand the Nativity in context of how much God loves us. Contemplate what the Most High God, the Almighty, the Creator of all is willing to do for us.

The first line of this quote reminds me of a line from Psalm 67(68), “And let the righteous rejoice before God; Let them be glad with merriment.” By itself, this line might seem insignificant — just another example of praise to be found in the Book of Psalms. So, let us put it into context:

Let God arise, and let His enemies be scattered, and let those who hate Him flee from before His face. As smoke vanishes, so let them vanish; as wax melts before the fire, So let the sinners perish from the face of God. And let the righteous rejoice before God; Let them be glad with merriment — Psalm 67 (68): 2-4

We sing these verses all through the Paschal season with “Christ is Risen” as a refrain. The ultimate goal of the Nativity, of Christ born in a cave, of lying in a feeding trough lined with hay, of becoming a human being is the Resurrection. Of course, there can be no resurrection without crucifixion.

One of my favorite icons associated with the Nativity is called Panagia “Formidable Protection”:

Panagia "Formidable Protection"

In His humanity, Christ is seeking comfort from His mother as angels reveal to Him the instruments of His crucifixion — the sponge, the spear and the cross. Christ became a babe in order to be crucified so that He could resurrect our humanity on the third day. This is the extent to which God is willing to go in order to save us. This is how much our God, our Maker values us.

Come, let us rejoice in the Lord, as we tell of the present mystery. The middle wall of partition has been destroyed; the sword of flame turns back, the Cherubim withdraw from the tree of life; and I partake of the delight of Paradise, from which I was cast out through disobedience. For the express Image of the Father, the Imprint of his eternity, takes the form of a slave, coming forth from a Mother who did not know wedlock, not undergoing change; for what he was he has remained: true God; and what he was not he has taken up, becoming man through love for mankind. To him let us cry out: God, born from a Virgin, have mercy on us. — Stichera from the Vespers of the Nativity of Christ

Amen.