Follow that star tonight, Bethlehem, Bethlehem…

Dec 24, 2018 by

by Archbishop Cranmer:

Thousands upon thousands of people will go to church tonight, and that’ll be it for another year. They’ll hear about Mary and a donkey, a star and three kings, shepherds and angels, a stable and a manger, and a baby. And they’ll sing about them, too, mostly without thinking too hard about the lyrics; many with a tear in their eyes remembering happy Christmases past; of joy and laughter with loved ones who are no longer here; of dreams unfulfilled, hopes dashed and innocence lost. They won’t ponder too hard on a star looming over Bethlehem. They’ll think even less about the seismic significance of ‘the gospel’ – a baby called Jesus, the Son of God, who was born…

He existed before, of course: being the Son of God, he was pre-existent with the Father in the beginning. If that makes sense. But in Bethlehem, beneath a star, he became flesh: a divine Sonship by the Spirit of God acting upon Mary; a supernatural procreation which split human history in two. The Messiah, the Christ was sent by God and descended to become a baby, born of Mary: a divine-human person; a God-man who was fully man and fully God. It’s called the Incarnation, but few will grasp the profound drama of that event. It’s just a bit of magic and silliness, really. Even fewer will know of the Old Testament promises of apocalyptic expectation; the stuff of legend. And who, singing about herald angels or the coming of the joyful and triumphant faithful, will bother to wrestle with miraculous conceptions, relinquishing and self-emptying; or the unity of two natures, the fusion of divinity with humanity in mysterious unity?

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