Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas: Christ’s Birth Bridging Heaven and Earth

“Unto us a Child is born, a Son is given.” (Isaiah 9:5)

Here is a wonderful Christmas sermon I ran across in my reading. It is by the 14th century German preacher, Johannes Tauler, whose work is rather much my life’s study. The excerpts here in English are my paraphrase from the Middle High German edition. [1]

The Three-fold Birth of Christ
Today holy Christendom remembers the three-fold birth that every Christian certainly celebrates. He delights in it so much that he should jump up out of himself for joy in jubilation and love, in thankfulness and inner rapture. And whoever does not experience such an impulse should be alarmed!

First Birth: God the Father Begets the Son before all Eternity
The first and highest birth is that in which the Heavenly Father begets his only born Son in His own divine essence—yet as a distinct Person. The first Christmas Service we celebrate is in the darkness of night, and it begins with the words, “The Lord said to me: You are my Son; today I have begotten you” [Psalm 2:7]. This Service is directed at the hidden birth that took place in the darkness of the hidden, unknowable Godhead.

Second Birth: Mary Gives Birth to Jesus in Bethlehem
The second Christmas Service begins with the words, “Today a light shines above us” [adapted from Isaiah 9:2]. And this means the spark of human nature made godly [in the Incarnation]. This Service begins in the dark of night but ends in the light of day, for this birth was partly unknown and partly known.

Third Birth: Christ Continually Born Afresh in Our Hearts
We celebrate the third Christmas Service in bright daylight, and its introduction resounds, “Unto us a Child is born and a Son is given” [Isaiah 9: 6]. This symbolizes the birth, rich in love, that should be taking place – and indeed does take place – every day and every moment in each believing and holy soul.

This happens when we but turn our attention and love upon it, for in order to feel and be aware of this birth, we must turn inward and redirect all our faculties. In this birth God gives Himself to each of our soul to own. He gives Himself inwardly to our soul, to be possessed above everything it owns!

May God help us all to prepare a place within for this noble birth, so that we can truly spiritually bear Christ in our lives! Amen.

[1] Die Predigten Taulers, ed. Ferdinand Vetter, Deutsche Texte des Mittelalters 11 (Berlin, 1910), sermon V 1.

© 2010 Glenn E. Myers

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