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Hebrews

1:1-14

 

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. For to which of the angels did God ever say, "You are my Son, today I have begotten you"? Or again, "I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son"? And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, "Let all God's angels worship him." Of the angels he says, "He makes his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire." But of the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions." 

 

 And, "You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end." And to which of the angels has he ever said, "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet"? Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation? (ESV)

More and Less

Monday of Advent 4

23 December 2013

People are "downsizing" these days. Empty nesters are moving to smaller, more manageable homes. People feeling the pinch of the economic downturn are returning to older, more proportionate celebrations of the season of the incarnation: gifts will be smaller, more thoughtful, and less showy. Conspicuous consumption is on the wane. For many less is more. Perhaps economic modesty is a good discipline to experience in our lives. Although, it is a shame that an economic downturn has to force it on us, rather than that we choose modesty in the midst of good times. But it will always be that way. We will manage with less only because we must manage with less.

 

The eternal Son of the Father cannot be spoken of in terms of more and less. In His relation of eternal begottenness, whatever belongs to the Father is the Son's and whatever is the Son's belongs to the Father (Jn 10:30). The Son does the works of the Father, and therefore does what only God can do (Jn 10:37). The Son makes known the Father's will because He shares it by divine right (Jn 15:15). And there is no time when this cannot be said to be. In eternity, the Son is united in essence with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God forever.

 

The unity of the Father and the Son in the holy Trinity is not just esoteric doctrinal gymnastics. Clarity on the inter-Trinitarian relations was early on seen to be indispensably tied to the certainty of the world's salvation. The ancient church Fathers perceived that if Christ is reduced to a creature, even the greatest of creatures, but who is always something less than God, then He is not God enough to save us. None other than the One who is God of God could save man. There is no mere creature, no matter how "great," who could provide the ransom sufficient for our redemption from sin and death (Ps 49:7-8). There is no waxing and waning in His divine essence, hence why He may not be called less or greater than the Father. He becomes "less" only in the incarnation. And unlike us, He is not forced into it, but descends from His heavenly throne and its eternal majesty that He might recover the fellowship with us that He so earnestly desires. He becomes less without becoming less in His divinity, so that we might in Him become more.

 

Gregory of Nyssa

 

"Let those also who speak of 'less' and 'greater,' in the case of the Father and the Son, learn from Paul not to measure things immeasurable. For the Apostle says that the Son is the express image of the Person of the Father (Heb 1:3). It is clear then that however great the Person of the Father is, so great also is the express image of that Person. For it is not possible that the express image should be less than the Person contemplated in it. And this the great John also teaches when he says, 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God' (Jn 1:1). For in saying that he was 'in the beginning' and not 'after the beginning,' he showed that the beginning was never without the Word; and in declaring that 'the Word was with God,' he signified the absence of defect in the Son in relation to the Father. For the Word is contemplated as a whole together with the whole being of God. For if the Word were deficient in His own greatness so as not to be capable of relation with the whole being of God, we are compelled to suppose that that part of God which extends beyond the Word is without the Word. But in fact the whole magnitude of the Word is contemplated together with the whole magnitude of God. Consequently, in statements concerning the divine nature, it is not admissible to speak of 'greater' and 'less.'"

 
Gregory of Nyssa, On the Faith
 

Prayer

 

Lord Christ, You are the image of the Father of whom You are ever begotten. You have the fullness of the Godhead. Yet You came down among us men by the overshadowing of the Most High becoming a man. Help us to rejoice in the less of the season, that we might enjoy fully the more that you truly want us to have. Amen.

 

For Lee Burrows, who is gravely ill, that the Lord would grant him the peace that surpasses all understanding

 

For Christian folk who need to hear the Word of Christ, that they might be able to set aside the enticements of the world to be still and know that the Lord is God

 

For all those who provide service to those who are suffering and in need of medical care, that they might find joy in their vocation 

Art: WEYDEN, Rogier van der  Annunciation Triptych  (c. 1440)

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