My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
THE INCARNATION OF THE LOGOS (WORD) OF GOD ACCORDING TO THE HOLY FATHERS OF THE ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN CHURCH
The Orthodox theologian, Father John McGuckin offers the following definition of the Incarnation: "Incarnation is the concept of the eternal Word of God (the Logos) "becoming flesh" within history for the salvation of the human race. Incarnation does not simply refer to the act itself (such as the conception of Jesus in the womb of the Virgin, or the event of Christmas); it stands more generally for the whole nexus of events in the life, teachings, sufferings, and glorification of the Lord, considered as the earthly, embodied activity of the Logos (Word)". (page 180)
"Speaking of expanding our theological vocabulary, we need to further know that we translate the key Greek term Logos as Word, referring of course to the Word of God Who was "with God" and Who "was God," according to Saint John's Gospel "in the beginning." We also refer to the Word of God as the "Son," "Wisdom," and "Power" of God. It is this Logos/Word of God Who becomes Incarnate as Jesus of Nazareth. The key verse that is the classical expression of the Incarnation in the New Testament is found in the Gospel according to Saint John 1:14: "And the Word (Logos) became flesh." Incarnation is derived from the Latin word "in the flesh." The Greek word for Incarnation would be sarkothenta, meaning "made flesh." So the Incarnation of the Word of God is the "enfleshment" of the Word, and here "flesh" means the totality of our human nature. The Word has assumed our human nature and united it to Himself in an indissoluble union that restores the fellowship of God and mankind. The Sacramental life of the Church is based on the Incarnation, and the potential for created reality to become a vehicle for spiritual reality. The ultimate manifestation of this is the Eucharist, and the bread and wine "becoming" the Body and Blood of Christ."
"Christmas is the time of the year to recall all of this profound reality and recover a genuine Christian vocabulary that expresses our Faith about as well as what is humanly possible. This further means that theological words are not dry and abstract concepts when approached with not only respect, but with awe and wonder. This makes our reading and studying of our theological Tradition exciting--as well as humbling. The words reveal life-transforming truths that if received with prayer and thanksgiving enhance and expand our minds and hearts, so that we might have the "mind of Christ." (Orthodox Church in America)
Saint Athanasios writes that the Logos (Word) became man, similar to us in all respects. Saint Athanasios uses the word "Incarnation" and by this he means that in assuming flesh the Logos (Word) became a full man, taking on an animate body with all the senses and sufferings that are proper to it. By virtue of its union with the Logos, "because of the Logos, which was in a body," the body was freed from its weakness and subjection to decay. The Life-Giving strength of the Logos freed the body of the Savior from natural weaknesses--"Christ thirsted, since that is an attribute of a body, but he did not perish from hunger." The flesh was deified by serving the works of God, and the humanity of Christ was without sin. The Lord "became our brother through the likeness of the body," and his flesh "was saved and liberated before the others." Since we "share in His Body," we are also saved, and our life is renewed "because our flesh is no longer earthly but has been made identical with the Logos (Word) by the divine Logos Himself, Who became flesh for our sakes."
Saint Basil the Great's language about the Logos/Word is traditional. He uses such terms as "ενσωμάτωσις, σάρκωσις, and ενανθρώπησις. In one instance Saint Basil comes quite close to Antiochene theology. In his Homily on Psalm 45, Saint Basil writes that "the flesh of Christ is the "bearer of the Godhead", sanctified through the union with God"--τάχα την σάρκα λέγει την θεοφόρον, αγιασθείσαν δια της προ τον θεον συναφειας."
Saint Gregory of Nazianzus clearly distinguishes the "two natures" of Christ (God and man). One nature is "subject to suffering" and the other is "immutable and above suffering." This is the main thrust of his exegetical polemic against the heresy of the Arians. "There was a time when he who is now despised by you was superior to you. Now he is a man, but once his nature was not compound. He remains that which he has always been, and he has assumed that which he previously did not have." Saint Gregory examines the evidence of the two natures contained in the Gospel by considering the "mystery of the names," the mystery of the double names and the double symbols, the manger and the star. All names and all symbols, however, refer to one and the same," "One God from both."
"When Christ was born in that low and humble place--the world was ready for His coming, the pure womb that was to bear Him was prepared. The great and awful event awaited by men since the moment of that first promise may be worthily recorded only in the inspired word of God: "Behold," says the Archangel Gabriel to Mary, "thou shalt conceive in thy womb and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shall call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High."
"...The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee; and therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." (St. Luke 10, 31:5).
Centuries before the first Christmas Day, a malignant angel had come to a woman (Eve) upon an errand of death, and Eve's disobedience to God's Command which has ensued was the beginning of the sin of the world.
The Archangel Gabriel came to Mary with the message of eternal life, and the ready obedience of the second Eve gave us Him Who is the fountain of all grace.
Christ, the Son, now Man, came to us in the deepest poverty--in greatest humility to be our Redeemer--Our King. Yes, Christ is King, not only as God, but also as Man. He is King, not only by reason of perfection of His humanity, not only because He has purchased us as His people by redeeming us; He is King because He is the Logos/Word Incarnate.
Christ is born! Glorify Him!
As Orthodox Christians, we greet one another with this confident exclamation during the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord. With this seasonal greeting we affirm that Jesus, Who took on flesh and was born into our world, is indeed the Christ, and worthy of glorification. This greeting is unlike other seasonal greetings being merry (Christmas), glad (tidings), or happy (holidays).
In the Great and Divine Feast we, Orthodox Christians, celebrate our salvation through the good news of our Savior's coming. When we greet each other with the news of Christ's Birth, we seize the opportunity to glorify the new born Savior. This Orthodox Christian greeting carries within it the promise of salvation, and the very meaning of Life.
MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU
The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you always. Amen.
Glory Be To GOD For All Things!
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God