During the Royal Hours for the Nativity this morning, I was struck by so many of the hymns of the Church. This year they seemed to me to have extra significance, extra weight.
Any of us who sing, read or listen to these hymns with faith are confessing the profound Mystery of Christ, the Incarnation of the Pre-Eternal Word of God. And in the Muslim world and other hotbeds of persecution, confessing one's faith in Jesus Christ, in the Incarnation, makes one a Confessor, and may very well lead to martyrdom. It is for this reason that many of the worst massacres of Christians by Muslims over the last several years have been precisely at Christmas.
Here in the United States, where hatred for Jesus Christ and true Christians is boiling up all around us, yet where we Christians are lulled to sleep by comfort and prosperity, persecution of the Church is done "more by sneer than by spear." Let us rouse ourselves to zeal and watchfulness, for how quickly it may turn!
Let us intercede for our persecuted brothers and sisters throughout the Islamic world, and let us allow the words and hymns from the Divine Services to "sink down into our ears" this year as we celebrate the Birth of Christ. And let us prepare to be good and faithful confessors all the days of our lives.
Kontakion of the Prefeast