Christmas in our Lives as Christians

Nativity Icon Detail

The celebration of Christmas is not mostly the remembrance of a historical event, though it is that.  The Nativity of Christ is also the personal salvation of each of us and the reconciliation of the entire world to God the Creator.  For Christians, celebrating Christmas begins with being in Christ:  we are to be one with Him, united to His death and resurrection so that we can die with Him and rise from the dead with Him.   Christmas is among the most theological of Christian Feasts.  It speaks to us about God and His relationship to us and the world.  It is the feast of salvation revealing the world and humans to be capable of bearing God in themselves.

“Let us become like Christ, since Christ also became like us; let us become gods because of him, since he also because of us became human.  He assumed what is worse that he might give what is better.  He became poor that we through his poverty might become rich.  He took the form of a slave, that we might regain freedom.  He descended that we might be lifted up, he was tempted that we might be victorious, he was dishonoured to glorify is, he died to save us, he ascended to draw himself to us who lay below in the Fall of sin.  Let us give everything, offer everything, to the one who gave himself as a ransom and an exchange for us.”    (St Gregory of Nazianzus Festal Orations, pg 59)

The Faith of Abraham

 Hebrews 11:9-10

Patriarch Abraham

By faith Abraham dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.  By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.  By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. 

The faith and faithfulness of Abraham was noted by ancient Jews and Christians alike.

“Third century Christian writer Origin, commenting on Abraham’s faith which caused him to obey to the extreme, noted that remaining faithful to God is easier for Christians than for Abraham—we have knowledge of Christ and the resurrection.

Origin aligns Abraham’s temptation with that of the Christian facing possible martyrdom.  The Christian has faith not only in the future resurrection of Isaac but also in the (past) resurrection of Christ; he or she should have it easier than Abraham did.  Is it possible, Origin implies, that Abraham’s faith is greater than our own, for we (he notes later in the homily) not only are reluctant to follow Christ’s injunction not to value family ties over the gospel, but also grieve when our children die, despite our faith?  Origin the homilist brilliantly evokes the Christian hearer’s own experience as a locus for understanding the text, and for letting the text, in the person of Abraham’s faith, challenge the hearer.  He will later note, commenting on God’s concluding words in the story (For now I know you fear God, “ Gen 22”12):  ‘But these things are written on account of you, because you too indeed have believed in God, but unless you shall fulfill “the works of faith” (2Thess 1:11)you will not know that you fear God nor will it be said of you:  “Now I know that you fear God.”‘”     (Blowes, P M, Christman, A R, Hunter, D G, Young, R D, IN DOMINICO ELOQUIO/IN LORDLY ELOQUENCE, p 41)