Advent Table Topic: The Greatest Christmas Gift of All

Before our family entered Christmas gatherings with extended family, I reminded myself of various sections from On the Incarnation,* by Saint Athanasius (c. 297 – 373).  Here is a passage regarding “the greatest Christmas gift of all” which came to the forefront for me as I sought to articulate the meaning of Christmas, place earthly gifts in perspective, and remind myself of my call/vocation “To see students & faculty transformed.  Campuses renewed.  World Changers Developed.”

The Adoration of the Shepherds

. … What was God to do in face of this dehumanising of mankind, this universal hiding of the knowledge of Himself by the wiles of evil spirits? Was He to keep silence before so great a wrong and let men go on being thus deceived and kept in ignorance of Himself? If so, what was the use of having made them in His own Image originally? It would surely have been better for them always to have been brutes, rather than to revert to that condition when once they had shared the nature of the Word. …

What else could He possibly do, being God, but renew His Image in mankind, so that through it men might once more come to know Him? And how could this be done save by the coming of the very Image Himself, our Savior Jesus Christ? Men could not have done it, for they are only made after the Image; nor could angels have done it, for they are not the images of God. The Word of God came in His own Person, because it was He alone, the Image of the Father Who could recreate man made after the Image.

In order to effect this re-creation, however, He had first to do away with death and corruption. Therefore He assumed a human body, in order that in it death might once for all be destroyed, and that men might be renewed according to the Image. The Image of the Father only was sufficient for this need. …

*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.

Note: For ESN’s Advent collection click here. For posts tagged Christmas follow this link.

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Tom Grosh IV

Enjoys daily conversations regarding living out the Biblical Story with his wife Theresa, four girls, around the block, at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church (where he hosts the Christian Scholar Series), on campus as part of InterVarsity Graduate & Faculty Ministry (serving fellowships such as the Christian Medical Society/CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine), online as the Associate Director of the Emerging Scholars Network, in the culture at large, and in God's creation.

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