The Nativity is just right around the corner.
DO NOT PANIC!
The Nativity Fast (Nov. 15th-Dec. 24th) is intended to be a joyous fast. The purpose of this fast is to help Christians remember that while the birth of every baby is a joyful event, we are to keep in mind WHY Christ is being born.
The Nativity, and its fast, are the beginning of the beginning. The beginning of the road to our salvation, the beginning of Christ teaching the apostles who then later, through the apostolic lineage, taught us about our glorious Savior and showed us the path to salvation.
How to observe the Nativity Fast?
- Remember we fast not for perfection, but for the joy that comes from obedience, and discipline. We fast to eat simply and remember that these are not times for gorging ourselves.
- We can fast not only food, but social media, radio/t.v., talking too much or about other people, etc. While this is a time of joy, it is also a time of upheaval as we deal with the outcome of the election, the fallout from the Corona virus, and whatever else is going on in our lives and the world. This time of fasting is a great excuse to remove ourselves as much as we can form the chaos of the world around us. The world will go on without us checking in on The Gram but we help it to heal and recover by doing the next item on the list…
- Pray. Commit to praying the morning prayers everyday.
I found this LINK to a list of prayers and hymns. Please don’t get hung up on which diocese it originates from. We should not have any divisions.
Also there is this book by Fr. Thomas Hopko,
It can be found on the Internet at various online retailers.
4. Commit to praying your evening prayers. Light candles, chant, whatever you can do to bring some prayer and light into the world.
5. Play Orthodox Christian music as much as you can. It will change the atmosphere in your home and/or car (if you are playing it in your car). We are bombarded with secular Christmas music every year. Drown out some of it with a recorded Nativity Liturgy if you can find one or an Akathist to the Theotokos, what ever you can find. The atmosphere over America Really needs to change. This can only happen if we change it around us.
6. Pray for at least 10 people; some you know, some you do not (include your priest and bishop in these lists!).
7. Take some of the money you save on groceries and hand some of it to a homeless person. Put some in the candle box even if you already paid for your candles (someone out there needs a candle and doesn’t have the money for one).
8. Kids, help out mom and dad more around the house.
9. Mom and dad, don’t take your stress out on the kids or the dog!
10. Hug each other everyday and tell each other, ‘I love you!’.
11. Try not to over indulge on pastries, rice, wheat, etc. using ‘they’re vegan’ as an excuse. If you’re ‘not a veggie person’ give it a go and experiment with new recipes.
Reading books keeps falling away more and more. Even if you are reading a ‘spiritual book’ try to read the scriptures relating to the birth of Christ. Here is something that I borrowed from the website; biblestudytools.
Tips on Reading the Bible Daily
1. Start reading the Bible today — there is no better time, and there’s no reason to wait.
2. Set aside a specific time each day. Set your schedule and then stick to it. Mornings are great, but feel free to use any time that works consistently for you.
3. Read the Bible for the sake of learning, not simply to accomplish your next reading. Say a short prayer to God before you begin, asking the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom and understanding, then be refreshed by the words you read!
- Day 1 – The Word became flesh
- Day 2 – The birth of Jesus is foretold to Mary
- Day 3 – The birth of John the Baptist is foretold to Zechariah
- Day 4 – Mary visits Elizabeth, the mother of John
- Day 5 – John the Baptist is born
- Day 6 – An angel appears to Joseph
- Day 7 – The ancestors of Jesus, part 1
- Day 8 – The ancestors of Jesus, part 2
- Day 9 – Jesus is born in Bethlehem
- Day 10 – Shepherds visit Jesus
- Day 11 – Mary and Joseph bring Jesus to the temple
- Day 12 – Visitors arrive from eastern lands
- Day 13 – The escape to Egypt
- Day 14 – The return to Nazareth
- Day 15 – Jesus speaks with the religious teachers
- Day 16 – John the Baptist exalts Jesus
- Day 17 – Jesus claims to be God
- Day 18 – Jesus eases John the Baptist’s doubts
- Day 19 – The transfiguration
- Day 20 – Jesus is the Good Shepherd
- Day 21 – Jesus blesses the children
- Day 22 – Jesus predicts His death, part 1
- Day 23 – Jesus predicts His death, part 2
- Day 24 – Most of the people do not believe in Jesus
- Day 25 – Resurrection, ascension, and invitation of Jesus
There are only 25 days worth of reading. You can read a daily scripture from the OCA website or work out a whole other reading schedule for yourself. The point is; we are Christians and we should read the word of God.
12. Go to confession… often.
These are SUGGESTIONS. Pick one, 3, or several. Trying to do them all would be difficult, perhaps impossible? Maybe divide them up between your family? a ‘pick one’ kind of game where those participating draw a piece of paper and do what is written on it and then talk about it with each other at dinner? Every day, one person gets to talk about what they read or prayed about earlier in the day.
Christianity is not meant to be a ‘spectator sport’.
Do what you can. Maybe take some items off the schedule in order to make time for the season? It is so easy to get wrapped up in the trappings o the season and before we know it, it’s over for the year and we missed it.