Into the darkness of winter, into the darkness of this world’s violence, hate, illness, war, and suffering, the Son of God, the Son of Man, comes, bringing us light so that through His light we may become Him. Christ is Born! Glorify Him!
This is what the Incarnation of the Word of God is all about. He comes to heal our broken world and unite Himself to us. Sometimes, I feel like we focus on the death of Christ, His atonement for our sins, and miss the Incarnation and the Resurrection.
Without the mystery of the Incarnation, without a sanctified vessel, the Theotokos, the Mother of God, the Virgin Mary, and her willing sacrifice for us, the Son of God could not and would not have been born. All of creation, and all of time was waiting for this woman, this Champion of Christians, this first Christian, to be born, to reside within the temple, so that her body might be made the Temple of God. That sacrifice, the indwelling of God was granted to a woman, a broken human being just like the rest of us. She too was subject to the corruption and death of the world that came about through the sin of Adam. But this woman, the Mother of God, was sanctified and chosen by God to bear Himself; she was chosen from time immaterial to be God’s Mother. No wonder “all generations shall call [her] blessed!” She carried God in her womb for 9 months. It wasn’t that the fetus “became” God at some point in development, it wasn’t that God dwelt in a child after the birth of that child, it was that God humbled himself so much that he became that ball of cells, that fetus, that baby.
I still can’t wrap my head around the mystery of the Incarnation, or the mystery of the Theotokos, the Mother of God. To think that God himself loves His creation so much that He unites His nature to our own through the Incarnation is mind-boggling. This is God, the creator and sustainer of the universe. And he chose a perfect vessel, the Theotokos, as the temple in which to make His home here on earth! And, He chooses each of us as His vessel in which to make His home here on earth, so that we might be sanctified, made holy, and through the working out of our salvation be brought closer and closer to God. So that at our death, because of the Incarnation, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension of Christ, we might be united to Christ, sharing in His energies, united in love.
This is the mystery of our salvation, the Incarnation of God. The death and resurrection of God was for the cleansing of the world from the corruption wrought by Adam, but it is in the uniting of us creatures to the Creator that we have our salvation. As St. Athanasius said, “God became man so that man might become gods.”
This Nativity Fast has been a struggle for me, many times my physical body has been broken, racked by pain and weakness. My heart has been broken, turning away from God, trusting in my own strengths. My intellect and all notions of myself have been broken when I’ve had to realize that what I thought were “my dreams” were not God’s plan for me. But, in God’s grace and mercy, I pray that this brokenness bring me closer to Him, more like Him.
Fasting is hard, fasting is a spiritual and bodily struggle. I fail at fasting. Like the Publican, sometimes all I can do is cry “Lord have mercy on me!” Like the Pharisee, I strut my stuff, thinking “I’ve got this fasting thing down, look at me being so good.” And then God humbles me, breaks me, so that I might slowly be sanctified.
Christ is Born! Glorify Him!