A Way in the Manger
Does Christmas save you?
I don’t ever remember hearing, during my evangelical days, anyone talk about the saving effects of Christmas.
As Christians, we believe Christ to be co-eternal and consubstantial with God the Father (in other words, fully God). So His birth is the Incarnation, the “taking on of flesh,” of the eternal God.
Usually the Incarnation is seen as a means to an end– that is, Christ must become man in order to die for our sins as our substitute on the Cross. In this view, the entire salvific work is really done in his death–His conception, birth, baptism and ministry are just necessary accoutrement to get Him to the Cross.
However, from the early days in the Church salvation was understood as participating in the life of Christ, as much as His death and resurrection.
In being born and taking on our human nature, He redeemed our human nature from its fallen state. In the manger, He opened up the way to become what we were always meant to be– the image and likeness of God.
St. Athanasius wrote: “God became man that man might become god.” Communion with God, because of Christ’s Incarnation, can therefore change us truly, more and more, into His image. As Father Stephen likes to put it, salvation is the process of the ontological change of our very nature, not a juridical declaration of our guiltlessness.
Instead of just God taking flesh to acheive His mission later, the accomplishment, glory and mystery of the Nativity of Christ is this: “Christ is born, raising up the image that fell of old!”
Glory to God in the highest!