The Christmas Season manifests itself in different ways in our American culture; and surely it means different things to various subgroups of Americans. American merchants see this as their best season for making a profit, and hope that Americans will be inspired to go shopping and spend money. Christmas in this thinking really does end on December 25. For the Orthodox Christians on the other hand December 25 represents the beginning of the Feast of the Nativity of Christ. The 40 day season leading up to Christmas is a time to reflect on what God has done for us and why – what is it about the world that caused God to send His Son into the world in order to save it? What merchants see as THE Christmas season, the Orthodox see as the pre-Christmas Lenten preparation for the Christmas Feast. Over the next few weeks, I will be posting on this blog some quotes from various people that speak to what Christmas means from the perspective of Orthodox Christianity.
“God has created the world precisely for his Incarnation; it is not the world which, through the fall of man, has impelled God to become incarnate.” (Sergius Bulgakov)
Bulgakov’s point is an important one. God planned and created the world to be in communion with Him. It is not human sin which compelled God to become incarnate, to heal the world and to unite humanity to Himself. God planned creation and salvation, incarnation and eternal life, from the beginning. It is God’s love which moves God to act in and for His creation (John 3:16). God always intended for humanity to be united to divinity, and He did whatever it takes to accomplish His gracious Will – even suffering for and because of His creation. Christmas is the new and surprising thing that God was willing to do to share eternal life with His creatures who lived in time and whose lives is shortened by death.