The Nativity

The Nativity

The Condescension of God and the Deification of Man

Those of us who observe the Julian Calendar are now about to complete the Nativity Fast. Having abstained from meat, eggs, dairy products, anger, envy and other habits, for the sake of promoting the discipline of the soul, we enter into a celebration that marks forever the change in man’s relationship with the Creator. We are now joining hundreds of millions of Orthodox Christians around the world, in celebrating the Birth of Our Saviour.

We Orthodox Christians on the Julian Calendar will be celebrating the birth of Jesus, the incarnation of God on Earth. This celebration of the Nativity of Christ marks the spiritual upheaval of the universe, for this solemn day marks the embodiment of God on Earth, and the day God became flesh in Jesus, and, potentially, in all creatures.

The celebration of the Nativity of Christ is as important for our salvation as Pascha, for the compassion revealed in the Nativity is but a precursor to the gift this compassionate God incarnate has for us. That which began with the incarnation of God taking on our flesh in order to unite Himself to His creation, will culminate with the bodily resurrection. The Nativity provides all of us with the possibility of divine redemption, for it is in the Holy Nativity that God reveals His love for us, in His great condescension to become like us.

This celebration of the birth of Jesus is not about the commemoration of a helpless baby given birth in a stable, nor is this about a sort of magic baby discovered by the Wise Men. The celebration of the Nativity of Christ is not about the concept of original sin, that all humans are born inherently corrupt. Rather, the Nativity is about the essential goodness of humans who have been created in the image and likeness of our Creator.

The message of both the Nativity and the crucifixion is that we are most human, most like God, when we respond to the suffering of others. Orthodox theology is about the Holy Nativity, whereby the Logos (the Word of God) took on our flesh in order to join Himself to our humanity. It is about the “co-suffering” love of God that embraces His creation.

The Nativity of Christ is about the God who created the world becoming incarnate, while the foundations of the Earth are shaken. The Nativity of Christ is about Theosis, whereby we are deified, and by His grace, welcomed to share in His Divinity, just as He has joined Himself with our humanity.

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Thanks to all of you who were praying for me after I was transported to the ER with heart problems on Monday morning. Because of your prayers, and the intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos, after two days in the cardiac unit of Swedish Cherry Hill Medical Center in Seattle, I am back in the monastery in time for the celebration of the Holy Nativity of Our Lord, God, and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

About the author

Fr. Tryphon is the Abbot of the Monastery of the All-Merciful Saviour, which was established in 1986 by Archimandrite Dimitry (Egoroff) of blessed memory. The Monastery is under the omophore of His Eminence Kyrill, Archbishop of San Francisco and Western America, of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

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