As we are celebrating the glorious Nativity today, God had been preparing the humankind throughout its history and paving the way for that wondrous birth, through several announcements: prophecies, symbols, the star and the angels.
Since the first moments of man’s falling and separation from God, and consequently from life and death spread inside man: “…Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” (Romans 5: 12); God has given His promise to mankind: “…And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” (Genesis 3: 15), the God gave His promise to Abraham; the father of fathers: “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 22: 18), and to our father Jacob: “And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 28: 14).
The prophets of the Old Testament had presented the prophecies of the Nativity which define the features of that wondrous Baby who would fulfill the promise of Salvation and reconciliation between earth and heaven: Isaiah the Prophet stated that He is born of a virgin: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7: 14), he also prophesied: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9: 6), Micah the Prophet identified the place of the Lord Savior’s birth: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me, The One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.” (Micah 5: 2). This is clearly obvious in the story of the Baby of the manger’s birth at the days of King Herod, who met the Magi of the east coming to Jerusalem in order to worship Him. W hen Herod the king heard this, he was troubled with all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of the Magi about where Lord Christ was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea” based on the prophecy of Micah the Prophet. Prophecies about the Baby of the manger continue, until we reach the one of Simon the Elder who carried Him and said, “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples…” (Luke 2: 29)
God also has introduced symbols for His people throughout ages, of this wondrous birth and of the Savior: The Ark of Covenant, through which cover Moses used to speak with God in the Tent of Meeting; the place where God met His people, and the Rod of Aaron, which miraculously flowered in a reference for the birth of Lord Christ from a virgin.
God made another announcement of the birth: in that wondrous star which the Magi of the East had followed. It was not a regular star like other ones, it was a manifestation of a heavenly power that took this form in order to guide the Magi to where Lord Christ was born; this is clear in: the star’s movement from the North to the South contrary to the movement of all other stars, and the time of its appearance during the day, making it brighter than the sun! Also, its disappearance then appearance: “It disappeared in Jerusalem, then reappeared to guide the Magi to Bethlehem.
The heaven announced the birth of Lord Christ when the angel of the Lord revealed to the shepherds (as in Luke 2: 8-13) the birth of the Savior: “Do not be afraid! For behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” He then gave them a sign: “… And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” The angels’ praising resonated in the heaven of Bethlehem, with their immortal chant: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
I wish you a glorious Nativity, pleading for God to make this year full of peace, goodness and blessings. Happy Nativity to all of you.
The General Bishop
Head of the Coptic Orthodox Cultural Center