I am not sure where Fr. John is going with this one, although the accompanying art and text point towards inspiration – never give up, never too late, etc.  The focal point of the Orthodox Christmas celebration is the vesperal liturgy of St. Basil which takes place on Christmas Eve.  There is also service on Christmas morning – this is the Church’s custom to provide the most opportunity for the faithful to come to service.  The idea is to come to one or another – whichever you can make.

Vespers is the traditional evening service of the Church, but really “sunset” is the better translation.  Interestingly, the term has come to connote “hope” – think the French espere, to hope, which is from the word.  We normally associate sunrise, not sunset, the onset of darkness, with hope.  This is very appropriate for the birth of Christ.  This cold, lonely birth, in the dark and soon to be under persecution, gives hope to the world.  So, when darkness takes over and all is bleak, never give up or give in.  Christ is there for us and we never have reason to fear.  The Church’s tradition of a vesperal liturgy in its own way drives this home – sunset brings hope, always.

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