Monday, December 24, 2007

December 24: Adam & Eve

In the Eastern Church and popularly (though not officially) in the West, today is the Feast of Adam & Eve. A Couple things to meditate on:

Christmas Eve is the feast day of our first parents, Adam and Eve. They are commemorated as saints in the calendars of the Easter churches. Under the influence of this Oriental practice, their veneration spread also to the West and became very popular toward the end of the first millennium of the Christian era. The Latin church has never officially introduced their feast, thought it did not prohibit their popular veneration. In many old churches of Europe their statues may still be seen among the images of the saints. Boys and girls who bore the names of Adam and Eve (quite popular in past centuries) celebrated their “Name Day” with great rejoicing. In Germany the custom began in the sixteenth century of putting up a “paradise tree” in the homes to honor the first parents. This was a fir tree laden with apples, and from it developed the modern Christmas tree. Francis X. Weiser, Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs, 1952.

And an anonymous poem (put to music some of you may have heard before) about what is sometimes called “the happy fault” of Adam and Eve:

Adam Lay Ybounden

Adam lay ybounden
Bounden in a bond
Four thousand winter
Thoght he not too long.
And all was for an appil,
And appil that he tok,
As clerkes finden
Wreten in here book.
Ne hadden the appil take ben,
The appil taken ben,
Ne hadde never our lady
A ben havene queen.

Blessed be the time
That appil take was,
Therefore we moun singen
Deo gracias.

Here are a couple prayers to use today:

The Blessing of the Creche (Nativity Scene)
God of every nation and people, from the very beginning of creation you have made manifest your love: when our need for a Savior was great you sent your Son to be born of the Virgin Mary. To our lives he brings joy and peace, justice, mercy, and love. Lord, bless all who look upon this manger; may it remind us of the humble birth of Jesus, and raise up our thoughts to him, who is God-with-us and Savior of all, and who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

The Blessing of a Christmas Tree
Lord our God, we praise you for the light of creation: the sun, the moon, the stars of the night, and for our first ancestors, Adam and Eve. We praise you for the light of Israel: the Law, the prophets, and the wisdom of the Scriptures. We praise you for Jesus Christ, your Son: he is Emmanuel, God-with-us, the Prince of Peace, who fills us with the wonder of your love. Lord God, let your blessing come upon us as we illumine this tree. May the light and cheer it gives be a sign of the joy that fills our hearts. May all who delight in this tree come to the knowledge and joy of salvation. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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