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Christmas is Jesus - The Mystery of Christmas

By Rev Dr Colin Peckham

It is a singular instance of the irony of history that, when Rome was sacked by Alaric the Goth in 410 AD, some of her high-born citizens fled to and found refuge in Bethlehem. Rome's imperial pride had given the Lord of Glory a manger for a cradle in Bethlehem, and now some of her most illustrious citizens streamed there, homeless and starving in the day of her calamity.

Jesus was born - what a birth! It was the starting point of a new chronology, the birth of a new world. The Eastern worshippers brought gold, the symbol of kingship; frankincense, the symbol of deity, for frankincense was burned to God; and myrrh the symbol of humanity, for humanity is subject to death and bodies were anointed with myrrh. This act of worship symbolized the regal God-man. The King had come as God and as man. His birth was a watershed in human history.

His birth did not begin His existence, for 'in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God' (John 1.1). By His Word God created: 'Let there be light and there was light' (Gen. 1.3). As Creator He enters the field and creates within His creation a new beginning in which He projects Himself into the human race. This is the miracle of Christmas, the miracle of the procreation of Jesus Christ without a father. This has nothing to do with the myths in the history of religions of the procreation of men by gods. God is Creator not partner. There is no question of a sexual event. He created by His Word. He spoke things into existence. The eternal Word is spoken into the ear of Mary, into her heart, into her womb, and Divine substance is formed. The spoken Word becomes physically visible. Proclamation and revelation become an historic event. God has come in concrete human form. Theologians call it 'the hypostatic union'. The Council of Chalcedon (451 AD) defined this unity as 'without confusion, without change, without division, without separation'. Jesus is true divinity and true humanity in sheer unity. In His freedom God has expressed Himself in man at this point in time. Nothing must be watered down here. This salt must not lose its savour. Only God can be our Saviour, and only as man can He save us.

Notice that He does not unite with man in his strength and pride and defiance, but in his weakness. He comes to a young peasant girl -- man in his weakness and humility. He became a foetus in the womb of Mary, and is hidden away for nine long months

'God contracted to a span
Incomprehensibly made man'

If ever there is a miracle in the whole kaleidoscope of Christian teaching it is that of the incarnation. Jesus was 'conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary' (Apostles' Creed). The event is divine revelation, definite conception, historical manifestation, and incomparable Salvation.

'If I to grasp this miracle should will
So stands my spirit reverently still.'

In the light of the mystery, we worship His majesty.

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