Posted: Dec 14, 2020

God in a Manger and the Meaning of Christmas

There are a lot of things associated with Christmas, both the holiday and the season surrounding it. Giving and receiving gifts, seeing family, time off from work or school, maybe even travelling somewhere for some winter relaxation. Obviously, much of what has been thought of as “normal” around this time of year has been disrupted. While I hope you, your family, and everyone else around you will still find ways to observe your typical Christmas traditions I also hope that the oddity of this year will encourage us all to think, perhaps more than ever, on the deepest, truest source of joy which we find in Christmas.

That joy is in the incarnation. We know from saying the Nicene Creed in worship that God is so supremely personal that God is not just a single person like you or me; God is tri-personal and exists forever as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In the incarnation the second person of the Trinity, already being truly divine, takes on our humanity to become truly human as well as the individual Jesus of Nazareth. Through his incarnation, his ministry, his death, his resurrection, and his ascension Jesus makes it such that all of us can return to our loving God not as servants but as friends (John 15:12-17), and not as people who have to reject our fleshy, bodily existence but as people who know their Creator has redeemed that humanity and welcomes them to share in its fullness.

We learn about the meaning of Christmas through the witness of the Church through the ages, including (and crucially!) in Scripture. We are blessed with four gospels in Scripture which each tell the story of the incarnation in their own ways and according to the needs of the communities in which they were put together. Which of the gospel’s incarnation stories speaks to you the most? Join us in reading these gospel stories, either with those around you or by yourself, and think about which expresses the timeless joy of the incarnation best to you. You can also join us in saying the prayer book’s “Collect of the Incarnation” before, after, or even between your readings.

The Gospels

The Collect of the Incarnation

O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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