The First Christmas Sermon Ever Preached

By St. John Chrysostom, December 25, 386, in Antioch

I behold a new and wondrous mystery! My ears resound to the Shepherd’s
song, piping no soft melody, but chanting full forth a heavenly hymn.

The Angels sing!

The Archangels blend their voices in harmony!

The Cherubim hymn their joyful praise!

The Seraphim exalt His glory!

All join to praise this holy feast, beholding the Godhead here on
earth, and man in heaven. He who is above, now for our redemption
dwells here below; and he that was lowly is by divine mercy raised.

Bethlehem this day resembles heaven; hearing from the stars the
singing of angelic voices; and in place of the sun, enfolds within
itself on every side the Sun of Justice.

And ask not how: for where God wills, the order of nature yields. For
He willed, he had the power, He descended, He redeemed; all things move
in obedience to God.

This day He Who Is, is Born; and He Who Is becomes what He was not.
For when He was God, He became man; yet not departing from the Godhead
that is His. Nor yet by any loss of divinity became He man, nor through
increase became he God from man; but being the Word He became flesh,
His nature, because of impassibility, remaining unchanged.

And so the kings have come, and they have seen the heavenly King
that has come upon the earth, not bringing with Him Angels, nor
Archangels, nor Thrones, nor Dominations, nor Powers, nor
Principalities, but, treading a new and solitary path, He has come
forth from a spotless womb.

Yet He has not forsaken His angels, nor left them deprived of His
care, nor because of His Incarnation has he departed from the Godhead.

And behold,

Kings have come, that they might adore the heavenly King of glory;
Soldiers, that they might serve the Leader of the Hosts of Heaven;
Women, that they might adore Him Who was born of a woman so that He might change the pains of child-birth into joy;
Virgins,
to the Son of the Virgin, beholding with joy, that He Who is the Giver
of milk, Who has decreed that the fountains of the breast pour forth in
ready streams, receives from a Virgin Mother the food of infancy;
Infants, that they may adore Him Who became a little child, so that out
of the mouth of infants and sucklings, He might perfect praise;
Children, to the Child Who raised up martyrs through the rage of Herod;
Men, to Him Who became man, that He might heal the miseries of His servants;
Shepherds, to the Good Shepherd Who has laid down His life for His sheep;
Priests, to Him Who has become a High Priest according to the order of Melchisedech;
Servants, to Him Who took upon Himself the form of a servant that He might bless our servitude with the reward of freedom;
Fishermen, to Him Who from amongst fishermen chose catchers of men;
Publicans, to Him Who from amongst them named a chosen Evangelist;
Sinful women, to Him Who exposed His feet to the tears of the repentant;

And that I may embrace them all together, all sinners have come, that
they may look upon the Lamb of God Who taketh away the sins of the
world.

Since therefore all rejoice, I too desire to rejoice. I too wish to
share the choral dance, to celebrate the festival. But I take my part,
not plucking the harp, not shaking the Thyrsian staff, not with the
music of pipes, nor holding a torch, but holding in my arms the cradle
of Christ.

For this is all my hope, this my life, this my salvation,
this my pipe, my harp. And bearing it I come, and having from its power
received the gift of speech, I too, with the angels, sing:

Glory to God
in the Highest; and with the shepherds:
and on earth peace to men of good will


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