“Make ready, O Bethlehem, for Eden has been opened for all. Prepare o Ephratha,
for the tree of life has blossomed forth in the cave from the
Virgin; for her womb did appear as a spiritual paradise
in which is planted the divine Plant,
whereof eating we shall live and not die as Adam.
Christ shall be born, raising the image that fell of old.”
Opening Prayer of the Office of Preparation.
As I listen to this prayer at every liturgy and look at the icon of the Nativity hung over the Prothesis Table, it becomes Christmas at each liturgy. This year, the Days of Blogging, have been one way to centre our attention on the manger and the cave. In these days there is a great need to find the manger spiritually. Our financial, political and international situations call for a return to innocence of spirit. We lack simple trust. No longer do we trust governments, institutions, including the Church, or even the future. Our lost trust is a by product of a great age of cynicism. Now is a good time to reflect on the manger. The manger is more than a place to see on Christmas cards and to sing of in hymns and carols. The manger in a cave is the focus of salvation history. The beginning of the trip to another dark place – the tomb. Here in this Opening Prayer, we begin the journey of the Theanthropos, the God/Man to redeem humanity. His route leads from Bethlehem to Golgotha; from the manger to the Tomb, from paradise to Hades. Our cynicism can be erased and our trust restored if we respond to God’s plan. God’s plan is His outreach to us his creatures. It is God entering Human history because of His great love. We are the recipients of God’s unconditional love. It is our calling to respond.