January 9, 2023

On December 25th, the Ukrainian Catholic parish in Morden hosted its first parish Christmas Vertep. The church could barely accommodate all the parishioners and their guests who get together to celebrate Christmas and welcome carolers with Vertep.

For almost two months, 17 actors were preparing Vertep. And even more, parishioners joined by preparing costumes, and props, and hosting our large group for rehearsals. The Lord put it on the heart to join the Vertep to those parishioners who had never performed in Vertep before. Our group had carolers from all over Ukraine. Old-comers and newcomers, elders and youth - everyone was united by worshiping baby Jesus.

The last year brought many challenges for Ukrainians. No matter where we were - overseas, or under shelling in Ukraine - all Ukrainians felt one common pain, and all of them had one wish on New Year's Eve - to see a free Ukraine without a war. Therefore, our parish decided to celebrate Christmas with a special patriotic Vertep.

In the traditional Vertep, shepherds meet angels worshiping the birth of a new King to the world. The Wise Men are looking for the manger where Jesus was born, and go to greet him with gifts. Herod tries to stop them and send soldiers to kill all newborns under the age of 2. But Herod meets Death who takes him to hell.

This year, the newborn baby Jesus in our nativity scene brought peace and freedom to Ukraine. Herod, who represents the evil King who expropriates other countries, is sent to hell by Death/Ukraine.

This special, unplanned Christmas on a new Canadian land was first for a lot of newcomers in our area.

Morden's church Vertep was one of the ways to welcome newcomers, to express our common wish to see a free Ukraine without a war.

This is one of the popular carols we sang in Vertep called NEBO I ZEMLYA/ HEAVEN AND EARTH.

The Ukrainian community wishes peace and happiness to people all around the world and in our communities in the New 2023 Year, for all those who struggle, who grieve some loss, who defend, who support and welcome, and for those who are looking for peace on this Earth.

Kateryna Tykhonova

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