On the Incarnation, by Saint Athanasius (c. 297 – 373), begins:
In our former book [i.e. the Contra Gentes (Against the Heathens)], we dealt fully enough with a few of the chief points about the heathen worship of idols, and how those false fears originally arose. We also, by God’s grace, briefly indicated that the Word of the Father is Himself divine, that all things that are owe their being to His will and power, and that it is through Him that the Father gives order to creation, by Him that all things are moved, and through Him that they receive their being. Now, Macarius, true lover of Christ, we must take a step further in the faith of our holy religion, and consider also the Word’s becoming Man and His divine Appearing in our midst. That mystery the Jews traduce, the Greeks deride, but we adore; and your own love and devotion to the Word also will be the greater, because in His Manhood He seems so little worth. For it is a fact that the more unbelievers pour scorn on Him, so much the more does He make His Godhead evident. The things which they, as men, rule out as impossible, He plainly shows to be possible; that which they deride as unfitting, His goodness makes most fit; and things which these wiseacres laugh at as “human” He by His inherent might declares divine. Thus by what seems His utter poverty and weakness on the cross He overturns the pomp and parade of idols, and quietly and hiddenly wins over the mockers and unbelievers to recognize Him as God.
Now in dealing with these matters it is necessary first to recall what has already been said. You must understand why it is that the Word of the Father, so great and so high, has been made manifest in bodily form. He has not assumed a body as proper to His own nature, far from it, for as the Word He is without body. He has been manifested in a human body for this reason only, out of the love and goodness of His Father, for the salvation of us men. We will begin, then, with the creation of the world and with God its Maker, for the first fact that you must grasp is this: the renewal of creation has been wrought by the Self-same Word Who made it in the beginning. There is thus no inconsistency between creation and salvation for the One Father has employed the same Agent for both works, effecting the salvation of the world through the same Word Who made it in the beginning.
As Christmas and a new year is soon upon us, I am re-reading On the Incarnation and re-affirming the Athanasian Creed.* I’ll share a few more quotes over the course of the next several days/months. Would love to have you join me in these reflections, by God’s grace leading to awe and worship.
Father, Grant us the grace by your Spirit and Word as part of your Body to set aside our work, humble ourselves before you, worship you for the gift of your Son Jesus the Christ, and affirm you alone as the One whom we follow with “head, heart & hands” in the coming year.
Come Lord Jesus, Fill our lives with the fruit of the Spirit as we interact with family, friends, and neighbor through the “holiday season.” Set our hearts on fire to grow more and more into your likeness (as individuals, families, local congregations, and the people of God) in the new year, a taste of eternity.
*Note: On the Incarnation available for free (text and/or audio) at Christian Classics Ethereal Library (CCEL). For background on Athanasius, read the bio at CCEL and/or Christian History. Picture linked to the one posted on CCEL. They cite their source as Wikipedia.
More Resources for Advent: As Mike mentioned in Repost: Bobby Gross: Living the Christian Year, I have written about Advent and practicing a Christ-Centered Christmas. In addition, I have been blessed by and encourage others (including you) to take time to visit Christine Sine’s Godspace series on Advent and the Advent Conspiracy. Note: My 2010 Godspace post is Second Wednesday of Advent – A Family “Advent”-ure by Thomas Grosh. For ESN’s developing Advent collection click here.
About the author:
Tom enjoys daily conversations regarding living out the Biblical Story with his wife Theresa and their four girls, around the block, at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church (where he teaches adult electives and co-leads a small group), among healthcare professionals as the Northeast Regional Director for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), and in higher ed as a volunteer with the Emerging Scholars Network (ESN). For a number of years, the Christian Medical Society / CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine was the hub of his ministry with CMDA. Note: Tom served with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship / USA for 20+ years, including 6+ years as the Associate Director of ESN. He has written for the ESN blog from its launch in August 2008. He has studied Biology (B.S.), Higher Education (M.A.), Spiritual Direction (Certificate), Spiritual Formation (M.A.R.), Ministry to Emerging Generations (D.Min.). To God be the glory!