24 December 2011

Daily Morsels-2011 Christmas Eve edition

Who were the Magi?--David Mathis, writing at Desiring God, shares interesting insights into the Magi, featured so prominently in every children's Christmas pageant.  He makes the point that the song, "We Three Kings" gets it wrong.  The magi were not kings, but sorcerers.  The word magic comes from magi.  "These magi are not respected kings but pagan specialists in the supernatural, experts in astrology, magic, and divination, blatant violators of Old Testament law — and they are coming to worship Jesus.

"We really should beware of having a narrower vision of who can come to Jesus than God does. We can be so prone to write off people like this, but God doesn't. He draws. He woos. He's seeking worshipers from among the priestly caste of pagan religion."

Modern day Scroogeism--"Every generation has its abundance of Scrooges. The church is full of them. We hear endless complaints of commercialism. We are constantly told to put Christ back into Christmas. We hear that the tradition of Santa Claus is a sacrilege. We listen to those acquainted with history murmur that Christmas isn’t biblical. The Church invented Christmas to compete with the ancient Roman festival honoring the bull-god Mithras, the nay-sayers complain. Christmas? A mere capitulation to paganism.
And so we rain on Jesus’ parade and assume an Olympian detachment from the joyous holiday. All this carping is but a modern dose of Scroogeism, our own sanctimonious profanation of the holy."  Read the rest here

On the incarnation--Christmas is about the incarnation. God became Flesh.  God with us. Emmanuel.  Here is a link to the 4th century classic, On the Incarnation of the Word by St Athanasius.  Mike Horton, of the White Horse Inn, said this is one of the 5 transformative books every Christian should read. 

Theology is rooted in Christmas--
No priest, no theologian stood at the manger of Bethlehem. And yet all Christian theology has its origin in the wonder of all wonders: that God became human. Holy theology arises from knees bent before the mystery of the divine child in the stable.

Without the holy night, there is no theology. “God is revealed in flesh,” the God-human Jesus Christ—that is the holy mystery that theology came into being to protect and preserve.

How we fail to understand when we think that the task of theology is to solve the mystery of God, to drag it down to the flat, ordinary wisdom of human experience and reason! Its sole office is to preserve the miracle as miracle, to comprehend, defend, and glorify God’s mystery precisely as mystery. This and nothing else, therefore, is what the early church meant when, with never flagging zeal, it dealt with the mystery of the Trinity and the person of Jesus Christ…

If Christmas time cannot ignite within us again something like a love for holy theology, so that we—captured and compelled by the wonder of the manger of the Son of God—must reverently reflect on the mysteries of God, then it must be that the glow of the divine mysteries has also been extinguished in our heart and has died out.-Dietrich Bonhoeffer (HT)

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