ADVENT WEEK FOUR: INCARNATION – DAY TWO

“Shepherds Sing; and Shall I Silent Be?”

Luke 2:15–18

The shepherds sing; and shall I silent be?

My God, no hymn for thee?

My soul’s a shepherd too: a flock it feeds

Of thoughts, and words, and deeds.

The pasture is your word; the streams your grace

Enriching all the place.

Shepherd and flock shall sing, and all my powers

Outsing the daylight hours.

George Herbert (1593–1633)


Simple Minds Sometimes Find Christ Where Learned Heads Miss Him

Matthew 2:1–12; Luke 2:15–20; 1 Corinthians 1:18–31

Shepherds glorified God, and so may you. Remember, there is one thing in which they had a preference over the wise men. The wise men needed a star to lead them; the shepherds did not. The wise men went wrong even with a star, and stumbled into Jerusalem; the shepherds went straight away to Bethlehem. Simple minds sometimes find a glorified Christ where learned heads, much puzzled with their lore, miss Him.

Charles Spurgeon (1834–1892)


Son of Man Without Ceasing to Be Son of God

Daniel 7:13–14; Matthew 1:23; John 1:1–2, 11, 14; Philippians 2:6–8; Hebrews 2:14; 1 John 4:2

He came to that which He was not; He did not lose what He was. He was made the Son of man, but did not cease to be the Son of God.

Augustine of Hippo (354–430)


Spend Your Time Thinking and Talking of the Love of Jesus

Galatians 4:4–5; 1 Thessalonians 1:10

What could the Lord Jesus Christ have done for you more than He has? Then do not abuse His mercy, but let your time be spent in thinking and talking of the love of Jesus, who was incarnate for us, who was born of a woman, and made under the law, to redeem us from the wrath to come.

George Whitefield (1714–1770)


Take Comfort in Emmanuel

Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23; John 14:2–3; 2 Peter 1:4

Let it be our comfort that God is Emmanuel. He left heaven, and took our nature to bring us there, where He is. When times of dissolution come, consider, I am now going to Him to heaven, that came down from there to bring me to that eternal mansion of rest and glory. And shall not I desire an everlasting communion with Him? God became man that he might make man like God, partaking of his divine nature, in grace here and glory hereafter. Shall not I go to Him that suffered so much for me?

Richard Sibbes (1577–1635)


The Appearance of the Newborn King Brought Peace

Luke 2:14; Romans 5:10; 2 Corinthians 5:18–20; Ephesians 2:16; Colossians 1:20; 1 Timothy 2:5

When the newborn King made His appearance, the swaddling band with which He was wrapped up was the white flag of peace. That manger was the place where the treaty was signed, whereby warfare should be stopped between man’s conscience and himself, and between man’s conscience and his God.

Charles Spurgeon (1834–1892)


The Author of Grace Grows in Grace

Isaiah 9:6; Luke 2:51; John 1:18; Colossians 1:15–17; Philippians 2:10

He who is everlasting in the bosom of the Father is conceived in a mother’s womb. Born from eternity of His Father without mother, He is born in time of His mother without father. He who clothed the earth with trees and verdure, who decked the sky with its lamps, who peopled the sea with fishes, lies wrapped in rags. He whom the heaven of heavens cannot hold is confined in a narrow manger, is fed with a mother’s milk. The Wisdom, whose wisdom has neither beginning nor end, who is Himself the very Wisdom of God the Father, advances from less to greater. He, whose eternity cannot be contracted even as it cannot be increased, exists by measurement of days and hours. And the primal author of grace, its preserver and its rewarder, grows in grace. He who is the object of the adoration of all created beings, and to whom every knee is bowed, is made subject to human parents.

Anselm of Canterbury (ca. 1033–1109)


“The Best of All Is, God Is with Us!”

Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23

The best of all is, God is with us!

John Wesley (1703–1791)


The Birth of Christ Revealed to the Poor and Hardworking

Luke 2:8–20; James 2:5

It is to the shepherds, watching and keeping the night watches over their flocks, that the joy of the new light is announced. To them it is revealed that the Savior is born. Yes, to the poor, to the hardworking, not to the rich, who have their consolation here below. It is to the poor that the light of a glorious day has shone forth amid their vigils, and the night shall be light as the day—indeed, it is converted into day. “This day,” says the angel, not this night, “is born to you a Savior.” The night is truly past, the day is at hand—a day of days, the day of the salvation of our God, Jesus Christ our Lord, who is God blessed above all forever more.

Bernard of Clairvaux (1090–1153)


“The Birthday of the Head Is the Birthday of the Body”

Romans 6:6; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 1:22; 2:5–6; 4:15; Colossians 1:18

The birth of Christ is the source of life for Christian folk, and the birthday of the Head is the birthday of the body. Although every individual that is called has his own order, and all the sons of the Church are separated from one another by intervals of time, yet as the entire body of the faithful being born in the font of baptism is crucified with Christ in His passion, raised again in His resurrection, and placed at the Father’s right hand in His ascension, so with Him are they born in this nativity.

Leo the Great (ca. 400–461)[1]

[1] Ritzema, E. (Ed.). (2013). 300 Quotations and Prayers for Christmas. Lexham Press.


Human Beings Become Human Because God Became Human

The figure of Jesus Christ takes shape in human beings. Human beings do not take on an independent form of their own. Rather, what gives them form and maintains them in their new form is always and only the figure of Jesus Christ himself. It is therefore not an imitation, not a repetition of his form, but their own form that takes shape in human beings. Human beings are not transformed into a form that is foreign to them, not into the form of God, but into their own form, a form that belongs to them and is essential to them. Human beings become human because God became human, but human beings do not become God. They could not and cannot bring about that change in their form, but God himself changes his form into human form, so that human beings—though not becoming God—can become human.

In Christ the form of human beings before God was created anew. It was not a matter of place, of time, of climate, of race, of the individual, of society, of religion, or of taste, but rather a question of the life of humanity itself that it recognized in Christ its image and its hope. What happened to Christ happened to humanity.

The whole Christian story is strange. Frederick Buechner describes the Incarnation as “a kind of vast joke whereby the creator of the ends of the earth comes among us in diapers.” He concludes, “Until we too have taken the idea of the God-man seriously enough to be scandalized by it, we have not taken it as seriously as it demands to be taken.”

But we have taken the idea as seriously as a child can. America is far from spiritually monolithic, but the vast backdrop of our culture is Christian, and for most of us it is the earliest faith we know. The “idea of the God-man” is not strange or scandalous, because it first swam in milk and butter on the top of our oatmeal decades ago. At that age, many things were strange, though most were more immediately palpable. A God-filled baby in a pile of straw was a pleasant image, but somewhat theoretical compared with the heart-stopping exhilaration of a visit from Santa Claus. The way a thunderstorm ripped the night sky, the hurtling power of the automobile Daddy drove so bravely, the rapture of ice cream—how could the distant Incarnation compete with those?

We grew up with the Jesus story, until we outgrew it. The last day we walked out of Sunday School may be the last day we seriously engaged this faith.

Frederica Mathewes-Green,

At the Corner of East and Now

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.

1 Corinthians 13:11–12[1]


Angels Join in the Joy of Christ’s Birth

Matthew 2:11; Luke 2:8–20

Run with the star, and bear your gifts with the magi, gold and frankincense and myrrh, as to a king, and to God, and to one who is dead for you. With shepherds glorify Him; with angels join in chorus; with archangels sing hymns. Let this festival be common to the powers in heaven and to the powers upon earth. For I am persuaded that the heavenly hosts join in our exultation and keep high festival with us today … because they love men, and they love God.

Gregory of Nazianzus (ca. 329–389)[2]


Grant Us to Be Freed from Our Ills

Isaiah 7:14; 9:6; John 1:9; 6:50–51

Today a Treasure is born to us.

Today the lantern of the virgin, kindled by the Holy Ghost, has manifested True Light.

Today the Physician of the blind is born.

Today the Health of the infirm.

Today the Strength of those that are weak, the Healing of those that are sick.

Today the Resurrection of the dead, our Savior, comes.

Today a new Light has appeared to us in the starry night.

Today our Savior approaches, whom the prophets had foretold, that He should be born of the virgin Mary.

Today the everlasting Bread of Light is shown to us, lying in a manger, who said, “I am the true Bread that came down from heaven: if any man eat of this Bread he shall never hunger.”

Grant us, Lord, by the virtue of your nativity, to be freed from our own ills, and ever to glory in your praises.

Amen.

Mozarabic Office


Grant Us Warmth in the Mystery of Love

Psalm 67:4; Matthew 16:27; 1 Timothy 3:7

O God, Son of God, whose name abides forever, and who, making yourself known as only God and Lord, came, through the mystery of the Incarnation you took on yourself, to be a King, to redeem the world,

grant us such warmth in this mystery of love that we may escape the snare of the deceiver, so that, as we proclaim with loud voice the joys of your Advent, we may exult in our salvation when you, our Judge, come to judgment.

Mozarabic Office


Honoring the God Who Reveals Himself to Little Ones

Matthew 18:3–4; 19:14; Mark 10:14–15; Luke 18:16–17

Almighty and everlasting God, Lord of heaven and earth, who reveals yourself to little ones,

grant us, we ask you, to honor meekly the holy mysteries of your Son, the child Jesus, and to follow him humbly in our lives, so that we may come to the eternal kingdom promised by you to little ones.

Through the same Jesus Christ, Amen.

Alphonsus Liguori (1696–1787)[3]


[1] Bonhoeffer, D. (2010). God is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas. (J. Riess, Ed., O. C. Dean Jr., Trans.) (First edition, pp. 52–53). Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.

[2] Ritzema, E. (Ed.). (2013). 300 Quotations and Prayers for Christmas. Lexham Press.

[3] Ritzema, E. (Ed.). (2013). 300 Quotations and Prayers for Christmas. Lexham Press.

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