December 20, 2006

Triple Connection

In Fr. Thomas Hopko’s book, The Winter Pascha (Reflection 20 The Two Comings of Christ), he quotes Ode 9 of the canon of the compline of the second day of the prefeast of the Nativity:

Christ Our Judge commands us to be vigilant.
We wait expectantly for His visitation,
For He comes to be born of a virgin.

At Your awesome second coming, O Christ,
Number me with the sheep at Your right hand,
For You took up your abode in the flesh to save us.

At Your first coming to us, O Christ,
You desired to save the race of Adam;
When You come again to judge us,
Show mercy on those who honor Your Holy Nativity.

He then comments:

The Christmas prefeast hymns, especially the canons, consciously refer to the hymns of the services of Holy Week before the springtime Pascha. In many of them Easter paschal themes are replaced by Winter paschal themes, with just a few words being changed in each verse. Thus, what is effected at these services is a sort of “triple connection.” Christ’s Nativity, with His Epiphany in the Jordan, is referred to His Passion and Resurrection, which is then referred to His Coming at the end of the ages. In making this triple connection, the entire Mystery of Christ is placed before the believers for their contemplation and communion.

This interconnectedness is one of the things I am learning to appreciate about Orthodoxy.

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