Be thou ready, Bethlehem, Eden hath opened unto all. Ephratha, prepare thyself, for now behold, the Tree of life hath blossomed forth in the cave from the Holy Virgin. Her womb hat proved a true spiritual Paradise, wherein the divine and saving Tree is found, as we eat thereof we shall all live, and shall not die as did Adam. For Christ is born now to raise the image that had fallen aforetime.
So the church teaches us to pray as we prepare for Christmas.
Recently some friends wondered why, if Mary is the Mother of God, the Gospels do not show the shepherds and the magi honoring her on Christmas Day and Epiphany. The answer is simple enough: on those awesome days the shepherds and the magi were themselves holy images acting out their parts in a great pageant. There are many lesser duties, but on those days, Christmas and Epiphany, one overwhelming fact and duty: Christ is born! Glorify Him! So they did, so we do from now until the end of time.
History often plods, but on some days all the hints, vague prophetic rumblings, and holy images, become incarnate. Every person caught up in the pageant of Christmas Day had a role to play.
The pageant had one living man, and one God, and they were the same person with two natures: the Baby of Bethlehem. The focus was not even on the star in this pageant, the star turned all her beams on the one who made all the stars. All the images came into being as Jesus pulled the ideal into the material in synergy forever.
We now prepare lesser images that point back in history to Bethlehem, a creche, a tree, and others that point forward to Christ’s Second Coming, a feast and crowns for that feast.
The Advent fast is almost done and the feasting will soon begin. Bethlehem welcomes Mary and Joseph and as this woman, the one who heard the Word of God and consented, comes into the little city, royalty returns to David’s City. As Mary gives birth, the image of the Tree of Life is given new meaning.
Her obedience is the soul from which the new Tree can spring. Jesus is born who will bring forth good fruit: bread and wine. We have known good and evil through choosing badly, but now we can know the Good and so live.
All the ancient images come to Bethlehem and gain new meaning. Mary is a second Eve, this time a Mother who chooses wisely. The son of God, Adam, chose death. The new Son of Man will choose life. The serpent lies and brings death to Bethlehem as he did to Eden. Yet while the Devil will use tools like Herod to bruise the heel of the Son of Man, Jesus born of Mary will crush the head of the serpent.
Incarnate ideas are usually merely images, Jesus is the ideal in harmony with the material: very God and very man.
Every Christmas pageant done this week is in imitation of this Pageant and every party a foretaste of the feast to come.