Christ Is Born: Let Us Glorify Him Properly

Christ Is Born: Let Us Glorify Him Properly December 25, 2020

David Bjorgen: Mural of the Birth of Christ / Wikimedia Commons

Christ is born! Glorify Him!

In the way God works with us, in the way God works with history, God does what is fitting. Therefore, the time of the incarnation, the time of the birth of Christ, was fitting. We might not know why it was fitting. Many have speculated as to why, such as those who suggested Christ was born at the “end of time,” to those who suggested that he might have been born at its middle, but in reality, we have not been told. What we have been told is that it was the right time, and so, when all the preparations had been made, Jesus was born, as  Paul explained:

But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,  to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So through God you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then an heir (Gal. 4:4-7 RSV).

Paul tells us that Jesus was born so that we might become a child of God. We no longer have to find ourselves stuck in the bondage of necessity given to us by sin. We do not have to be a slave to sin, but rather, we can find ourselves taken over by God, welcomed into the family of God. Having become adopted children of God (through Jesus), we can cry out to God as our parent, and God will then help us, as a parent does for their children, when we find ourselves in trouble. As we join ourselves to Christ through baptism, we become a part of the family of God; we are given rights and privileges, but also, expectations. We must present ourselves in the world and act as the family of God, doing what God would have us do.

Christ is born, so that we can, through Christ, become born again, to be born into the household of God, that is, into the family of God. Having become a child of God, through adoption, we can become like God, deified through grace. Christ is born so that we can be born again, to be born in him, to live our life in him. We are expected to cooperate with the grace given to us, letting it thrive in us, so that we can then help redeem the world with Christ.

Christ is born, so we can truly be born with him, freed from the bondage of sin. St. Gregory the Theologian, therefore, reminds us why we celebrate the birth of Christ, why we celebrate the incarnation, why, indeed, we are joyful when we hear Christ is born:

This is our present Festival; it is this which we are celebrating today, the Coming of God to Man, that we might go forth, or rather (for this is the more proper expression) that we might go back to God — that putting off the old man, we might put on the New; and that as we died in Adam, so we might live in Christ, being born with Christ and crucified with Him and buried with Him and rising with Him. For I must undergo the beautiful conversion, and as the painful succeeded the more blissful, so must the more blissful come out of the painful. For where sin abounded Grace did much more abound and if a taste condemned us, how much more doth the Passion of Christ justify us? Therefore let us keep the Feast, not after the manner of a heathen festival, but after a godly sort; not after the way of the world, but in a fashion above the world; not as our own but as belonging to Him Who is ours, or rather as our Master’s; not as of weakness, but as of healing; not as of creation, but of re-creation. [1]

We keep the feast holy by keeping ourselves holy. We must not allow ourselves to be persuaded to fall back to the slavery of sin. We keep the feast holy by remembering the grace which has been given to us and work with it, so that, when we cooperate with it, we can go from glory to glory, seeing ourselves not only freed from the bondage of sin, but healed from all the pain and sorrow we have caused ourselves and others due to our sin. Why then, do we falter, why, then, do we turn back  to sin? Why do we ignore Christ when he tells us to love others, to do for them as Christ has done for us? Why do we think we can turn our backs on God once we have been taken in by Christ?

Christ is born! Let us glorify Him! How do we do that? By doing the will of God, by living out the great commandments to love God and our neighbor, to do all things in reflection of such love. To think of others and how we can lift them up as we have been lifted up by Christ. We are to truly put on Christ, but once we do so, we are expected to act like Christ in the world. We are to be Christ to those in need, even as we are to see Christ in those in need. We glorify Christ by acting like Christ even as we glorify Christ by honoring him in our neighbor, in the image and likeness of God contained in all people and in all things. This is how we prove ourselves to be children of God. This is how we prove ourselves to be freed from the bondage of sin as we overcome the temptation of sin to love ourselves at the expense of others. This is how we truly honor Christ and bring him glory:

Christ is born, glorify Him. Christ from heaven, go ye out to meet Him. Christ on earth; be ye exalted. Sing unto the Lord all the whole earth; and that I may join both in one word, Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad, for Him Who is of heaven and then of earth. Christ in the flesh, rejoice with trembling and with joy; with trembling because of your sins, with joy because of your hope. Christ of a Virgin; O ye Matrons live as Virgins, that you may be Mothers of Christ. Who doth not worship Him That is from the beginning? Who doth not glorify Him That is the Last?[2]

Having been born again in Christ, we are called to participate in the freedom of Christ. We are to glorify him, meeting Christ in all we meet, allowing them, likewise to see Christ in us as we do the work of Christ for them. Today as we rejoice in the Lord, let us truly ponder the birth of Christ. Let us truly reflect upon what it means to glorify him – and do it the rest of our lives. Let us have Christ truly born again in our lives so that the world can experience his continuous presence and from it, receive the liberation which he provides to all.

[1] St. Gregory Nazianzen, “Oration 38: On  The Theophany, Or Birthday of Christ” in NPNF2(7): 345-6.

[2] St. Gregory Nazianzen, “Oration 38: On  The Theophany, Or Birthday of Christ,”  345.


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