Welcome to Lamb Cottage. It's a real place, and this is where I live with my dear husband. We even have lambs. This is a personal blog, especially concerning life as an American expat in Scotland, life as an over-50, life with lambs, and life as an Orthodox Christian. You're most welcome to come and visit awhile. I hope we can be friends!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas

From all of us at Lamb Cottage:
May the true Joy and Miracle of Christmas bless you now and throughout the year.

Christ is born!
Glorify Him!

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Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve

Silent night, holy night!
All is calm, all is bright.
Round yon Virgin, Mother and Child.
Holy infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight.
Glories stream from heaven afar.
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia.
Christ the Saviour is born!
Christ the Saviour is born!

Silent night, holy night!
Son of God; love's pure light.
Radiant beams from Thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace.
Jesus Lord at Thy birth,
Jesus Lord at Thy birth!

My father always told me that on Christmas Eve, at midnight, the animals fall on their knees, speak in human voices, and praise their Maker. I've never seen it. I believe, though. Would that humans round the world would fall on their knees at midnight tonight and praise God!
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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Take Heed, and Be Faithful

Are you excited? I am filled with anticipation and wonder. I am thinking about all the prophecies pertaining to Christ -- his birth, his life, his death, his resurrection, his second coming.

A friend posted on Facebook recently about a snippet from a radio program he heard which featured a talk from Archbishop Fulton Sheen, back in the 1950s. The Archbishop spoke about how NONE of the other religious leaders of various other religions could ever claim that any part of their lives and ministries were prophesied hundreds of years in advance. Thousands of years, even. Only Christ is foretold by the prophets. Only Christ was there at the foundation of the world. Only Christ is the Messiah. Only Christ is both God and man.

Do we heed what the prophets have told us? 

O let me have the faith to believe and heed them. Let me never turn from my Christ!
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O Emmanuel :: O God With Us

O Emmanuel, our King and our Lawgiver, Longing of the gentiles, yea, and salvation thereof:
Come to save us, O Lord our God!

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel.
~Isaiah 7:14~

Enjoy some of my favorite, beautiful images of the Theotokos :: Blessed Virgin Mary, with the infant Christ:


Another beautiful setting of the 7th O Antiphon: O Emmanuel

We have come to the last day of the O Antiphons. Tomorrow is the Eve of Christmas!

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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Be Gentle

We are so close now! And for those of us who are longing for a peaceful, spiritual, Christ-centered Christmas, our waiting and longing are drawing to a close. But for those who are frantically enmeshed in a worldly pre-Christmas season, it might be that tempers are flaring, folks are getting stressed, money is getting tight, families are imploding -- well, you get the picture.

What gift can we give those who are lost? Now is the time to be gentle and kind. Never mind if the person deserves it. We have a chance to show the World who Christ is.

Be gentle. Be loving. Be kind. Be Christmas!

Just maybe... someone will want to know why you are so peaceful at this hurried time of year...
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O Rex Gentium :: O King of the Nations

By Linda Henke (see Dec 17 for site)

We are in the final days of Advent!
To be Christian is to be constantly wrapped up in paradoxes and seeming paradoxes. We wait -- with anticipation, expectation, fear, trembling, joy, peace. We wait for that which has come and IS coming and that which will come and IS come: The first and second comings of Christ. And as we ponder and pray, many of us will be overwhelmed by conflicting emotions. In the end, though, I think JOY will win out.

I find it immensely comforting--as we live in a world full of conflict, anger, strife, war, greed, and madness--to know that the True King, the King of the Nations, the Rex Gentium, is our Christ, and has absolutely nothing to do with worldly concepts of power and might. He comes first as a baby, wrapped in humility. He comes again in all His power. And we await both.

by a nun at Abbey of Regina Laudis

O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart;
O Keystone of the mighty arch of man:
Come and save the creature You fashioned from the dust!

His empire shall be multiplied, and there shall be no end of peace: He shall sit upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom; to establish it and strengthen it with judgment and with justice, from henceforth and forever: the zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
~Isaiah 9:7~

And he shall judge the Gentile, and rebuke many people: and they shall turn their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into sickles: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they be exercised any more to war.
~Isaiah 2:4~

Here is O Rex Gentium, followed by The Magnificat:

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Monday, December 21, 2015

O Oriens :: O Radiant Dawn

O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light,
sun of justice:
Come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great Light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined.
~Isaiah 9:2~

O Radiant Dawn! What a wonderful antiphon this is, and what a wonderful, hopeful, joyful feeling it engenders. Christmas draws near! Salvation is at hand!

Here is a glorious rendition of this antiphon.
If this doesn't make your heart sing, well... I just don't know...

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Wait... and Rejoice

I can feel a palpable tension in the air. Not a bad thing, just an extreme feeling of waiting. Christmas draws near. Out in the world, people who have no idea what Christmas is about, are still running around manically -- buying food, buying alcohol, buying presents. People are busy planning and attending parties. People are making sure they do all the things the World says they should to prepare for Christmas.

And yet... and yet... Christmas is going to come, whether we prepare or not, and whether we follow the rules of the World, or whether we still our hearts and minds to listen and wait.


Remember... God broke into the humanity of the world on a silent, still night. A little Child was born to an unknown couple in an out of the way, make-do kind of place. 

No need to get wrapped up in what the World (over here) calls "the festive season." Just be silent, tend your flock (whether it's only you, or your family, or friends, or whomever God has put in your hands), and wait for the Heavenly Host to sound in your heart and tell you Christmas has arrived!

Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth, peace,
Goodwill toward men!
Luke 2:14
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Sunday, December 20, 2015

4th Sunday of Advent

It's the last Sunday before Christmas!
What kinds of things are we meditating upon, thinking about, worrying about?

I wonder what Mary, the Blessed Virgin, the Theotokos, was wondering about and thinking about as her time of delivery approached? When I ponder Mary and her role in God's plan of salvation, my mind boggles. NO ONE prepared more than Mary, the Theotokos, the God-bearer did.

This evening, when my dear husband and I were sharing our devotional time, we both said that if we could only have the tiniest fraction of the faith Mary had, our lives would be immensely richer.

As we get closer to Bethlehem, we are pondering the Theotokos--the Blessed Virgin Mary-- and praying, asking her to intercede for us and to help us in the walk of faith.
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O Clavis David :: O Key of David

Linda Henke (see Dec 17 for site)

The "O Antiphon" for December 20 is:
O Key of David and scepter of the house of Israel,
You open and no one can close;
You close and no one can open.
Come and rescue the prisoners who are in darkness and the shadow of death.

The key of the house of David
I will lay on His shoulder;
So He shall open, and no one shall shut;
And He shall shut, and no one shall open.
~Isaiah 22:22

I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore.
Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.
~Revelation 1:18

What a victorious antiphon! Are you joyfully, prayerfully, expectantly waiting for Christmas? I am!

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Saturday, December 19, 2015

O Radix Jesse :: O Tree of Jesse

By Linda Henke, see Dec 17 for site.

O Root of Jesse, standing as an ensign before the peoples, before whom all kings are mute, to whom the nations will do homage:
Come quickly to deliver us!

But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. 
~Isaiah 11:1~

On that day, the root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the nations, the Gentiles shall seek out, for his dwelling shall be glorious.
~Isaiah 11:10~

Jesse was the father of King David, and in the book of Micah, there is the prophecy that the Messiah would be of the house and lineage of David.

Jesse Trees have become popular ways to mark the progress of Advent. Above is a photo of a set of Orthodox Jesse Tree ornaments, covering the period between November 15th, when the Nativity Fast begins, through to December 24th. In the West, the Jesse Tree devotions would start on December 1.

We have had a Jesse Tree in the past, but not one this year. I am planning on making some ornaments for next year, God willing. There are all kinds of ways to do devotions with Jesse Trees, the Scripture readings going through the Old Testament and pointing the way to Christ. The trees can be made of anything, can be flat, can be regular Christmas trees, can be twigs... whatever you feel called to do. The Jesse Tree is a wonderful daily way to move through the Advent / Nativity season.

Here is the Antiphon sung, reminding us of the geneaology of Jesus. It is a lovely choral version by Peter Witte:

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What Are We Waiting For?

Don't get me wrong: I love Santa. I really do! Not the insane commercialism and consumerism that is associated with him, but the childlike joy that Santa can bring. I enjoy reading wholesome Santa stories, seeing cute videos, and someday... I dream of going to Lapland to see him!

But during Advent, I am not waiting for Santa. I am waiting for the One who comes to redeem the world -- both his first and second comings. I am waiting for the wee baby who breaks into the world in the most startling and unbelievable way. I am waiting for the One who will come in glory, when there will be no mistake in anyone's minds who it is who has come to make the old pass away and to bring a New Jerusalem.

I enjoy seeing Santa decorations and I have a soft spot for reindeer. But they are peripheral aspects of my Advent and Christmas. I am waiting for the One.

I was reading an Advent devotional dealing with the fact that in this day and age, so many people have no idea what Christmas is really all about. And I startlingly experienced this myself, just this week. A friend and I were at a women's gathering that were having a Christmas party. Most of the women were ten or twenty years older than we, or more. And it turned out that most of them did not know who was born on December 25th, and many of them became quite vocal about how they believed Christianity was just hogwash. We were stunned. These were women one and two generations older than we, and they either didn't know the Christmas story, or vehemently denied it.

Next time you wonder what has happened in this world, think about those women. You can't have generation after generation denying Christ and not even knowing the story, and expect things to go smoothly in the world.

Here is a wee prayer from the devotional I've been reading:

Dear Jesus,
I know that there are many in this world who have no idea why we're celebrating Christmas. Give me the opportunities and the courage to tell others about your birth and about what you've done for me. Thank you.
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Friday, December 18, 2015

O Adonai :: O Lord and Ruler

Linda Henke (see Dec. 17 post for website)

O Sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain:
Come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free!

We have a Christmas tree. We have more than one! We also have a Chrismon tree, and it varies from year to year whether we hang our O Antiphon ornaments on the Big Tree or the Chrismon Tree. Either way, they are hung each year, and we try to do devotions incorporating the O Antiphons. Listening to them being sung, reading the Scripture passages pertaining to them, and meditating upon the words of the antiphons helps us to focus on REAL Christmas.

The days are dwindling, my friends, and Christmas Day will be upon us soon!

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Whether We Believe It or Not

Christ is with us in the Incarnation. Whether we believe it or not. He comes knocking on the doors of our hearts, but even if we do not answer Him -- open our hearts to Him -- He is still there.

Take a moment to ponder the awesomeness of the Incarnation, and the way in which Christ chose to come to us. 

Take a moment to consider the next coming of Christ, for which we also wait this Advent season, and all seasons.

Christ breaks into the world, and it will never be the same! Hallelujah!
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