Christmas Coptic Articles Index
The Glorious Feast of Nativity:
May the blessings of the Glorious Feast of the Nativity be with you all.
Upon the Feast of the Incarnation of the Word, it is important to reflect upon the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ and what He represents. St. John in His Holy Gospel wrote, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (1:1) and the Apostle also wrote, "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us." (1:14) Through these Holy Scriptures we learn that the Lord Jesus Christ is God, for He was with God before all times. This is the reason we recite, "We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only begotten Son of God…" in the Nicene Creed.
Lactantius (c.304) wrote, "He who hears the Son of God mentioned should not conceive in his mind so great an impiety as to think that God begat Him by marriage and union with a woman…In what manner, then, did God beget Him? First of all, divine operations cannot be known or declared by anyone. Nevertheless, the sacred writings teach us…that this Son of God is the speech or even the reason of God…With good reason, therefore, He is called the Speech and the Word of God. For, by a certain incomprehensible energy and power of His Majesty, God enclosed the vocal spirit proceeding from His mouth into a form that has life through its own perception and wisdom. So God did not conceive the Word in His womb, but in His mind…Now, our human words are mingled with the air and they fade away. However, they can still be preserved in writing. How much more must we believe that the voice of God both remains forever and is accompanied with perception and power? It has derived this from God the Father like a stream from a fountain. Someone may be puzzled that God could be produced from God the Father by putting forth of the voice and breath. However, if such a person is acquainted with the sacred utterances of the prophets, he will cease to wonder…The Greeks speak of Him as the Logos, more appropriately that we Romans do as the "Word" or "Speech." For logos means both speech and reason. And He is both the Voice and the Wisdom of God."
His birth on earth was not His actual beginning, as the Lord Jesus Christ is without beginning. He has existed forever, for all times. From the very beginning the Incarnation was planned. This is the reason we recite in the Nicene Creed, "Begotten of the Father before all age; Light of Light, true God of true God…"
St. Clement of Alexandria (c. 195), a learned and respected scholar who was in charge of the theological college in Alexandria, Egypt, wrote, "That the Son was always the Word is signified by saying, 'In the beginning was the Word."
Clearly we understand that He was born a man, "for He became flesh." He was like the earthly human but without sin dwelling among us. He was born both as God and man never denying His Divinity. The two are united without confusion between them. God has entered into earthly history as a man.
Thus with understanding we recite, "Begotten not created, of one essence with the Father, by Whom all things were made; Who for us, men, and for our salvation, came down from Heaven, and was incarnated of the Holy Spirit and became man" in the Nicene Creed.
Martyr Justin (c.160), a tireless evangelist and apologist who, prior to his time, wrote more than any other concerning Christianity, proclaimed, "The Word Himself, who took shape and became man was called Jesus Christ."
The truths expounded in the Nicene Creed help us to understand how The Word became Man and how the miracle of His birth or His incarnation came to be. Further, the Church Creed explains what happened to establish the truth. With the establishing and understanding of the truth, comes the opening of the age to come, the Kingdom of Heaven to us all.
Each time we pray the Nicene Creed, may we all come to a full knowledge of who the glorious person of the Lord Jesus Christ truly is, and how the Son of God became Man and is manifested to us.
Upon this Glorious Feast of the Nativity let us all give homage to the miraculous birth of the One who deified humanity.
H.G. Bishop Youssef
Bishop, Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
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