St Hilda's Anglican Catholic Church Service Times

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Fr Matthew Kirby for further details.
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Monday, 20 January 2014

Christmass 2013 - “Word became flesh”

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John 1:1-14 (KJV)

“[T]he Word became flesh and dwelt among us+

·         What's so special about Christmas? Oh, it's easy enough to answer that from the cultural and emotional perspective. It's a time of celebration and gift-giving, and a time most people catch up with family. And, speaking of family, Christmas tugs at the heartstrings with the tender image of Mother and Child, even if many don't really understand who they are.

·         But theologically, it seems strange that it has become the 2nd greatest Feast for the Church after Easter. At first one might reply: “Well of course it is. After all Christmas remembers the Incarnation, God becoming Man, and tells us who Jesus is. Good Friday and Easter remind us the essence of what he has done for us, in saving from our sins and giving us new life. No mystery there!” However, the “Word became flesh”, as I quoted from the Gospel at the beginning, not at Christ's birth, but at his conception, which we celebrate March 25 (that's right, 9 months earlier). It's called the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary because the Angel “announced to Mary” that she was to be the Mother of the Christ.

·         So, the Church has two Feasts of the Incarnation, and the one at the birth is emphasised. Why? Well, let's go back to that verse I quoted: The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The original Greek word for “dwelt” used here is not the normal one, but one associated with dwelling in tents or tabernacles, eske(e)'nosen. It would have reminded the first Jewish readers of  God's dwelling with them in the Tabernacle/tent of meeting, as they journeyed from Egypt to the Promised Land. In other words, God walks with us on the journey, visibly present. And then the verse goes on to say that “we … beheld his glory”. It was not until the birth that Immanuel, “God with us”, was revealed to humanity as God among us. Until then he was hidden in the womb of the Blessed Virgin.

·         Sometimes our Christian life can be like that. We may believe that our light is hidden under a bushel even when we are doing good, that we are not making an impact, that our deeds are too small, our life too quiet. While we should do all we do for God and not for the praise of men, we might, without egotistical reasons, still be concerned that we are not letting our light shine as Jesus told us to Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5:16. Don't worry. If you are obedient to God, if you are faithful in things small and great, he will take care of your “witness”, your reflection of Him to others. There is nothing covered that will not be revealed. Mark 4:22. Live by faith, with consistency and integrity, and the light that is Christ will be seen through you.
   Christmas, then, is about who Christ is as God, but also how he identified himself fully and visibly, touchably, audibly with the human condition. He humbled himself to be a vulnerable Baby, in order that he might humiliate Himself entirely by subjecting Himself to the consequences of our evil. In other words, he came to undergo yet overcome darkness and death, at the Cross, for us. To save us. But he was able to do this because of who he was, so in the same way that the tenderness of Christmas has its fulfillment in the confrontation of Easter, so Holy Week and Easter always point us back to the beginning. 

·        Jesus is God taking on our human nature, and our human struggles and physical weaknesses. He did not put on humanity as an ill-fitting mask, to be thrown away once we “got the message” from some object lesson. No, He remains fully and truly divine, fully and really human. And it is in His now eternal manhood that we become eternally united to God. It is the bridge, the link, between Divinity and Humanity. By faith and baptism we become part of the Body of Christ, the Church, receiving new life. By the Eucharist, received in faith we feed this life, to be ever “flesh of his flesh” Gen. 2:23. As we look back to the beauties of Christmas, let us recall with wonder that His inclusion in human history has not only saved us from sin, it has included us in the loving intercommunion/fellowship that is the Holy Trinity. 

He came down, not to just lift us out of a pit, but to lift us up to God: 
in Him, by the power of the Spirit, unto the Father.  +

BEHOLD a virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and shall call his name Immanuel, Isaiah 7.14

Unto us a child is born, / unto us a son is given. Isaiah 9.6

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, 
because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, 
that we might live through him. 1John 4:9

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings 
in heavenly places in Christ: Ephesians 1.3

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost; 
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, 
world without end. Amen
St Hilda's Australian Anglican Catholic Church - Maitland and Taree  Australia- Christmas 2013

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