Thursday, December 24, 2009

in the midst of us...

We are on our way to the manger...This morning, the first part of a William Ellery Channing Christmas Sermon...

"JESUS CHRIST THE BROTHER, FRIEND, AND SAVIOUR.

Luke ii. 10, II, 12 : "Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."

CHRISTMAS has come once more—the day devoted by the large majority of Christians to the commemoration of the Nativity of the Saviour. In both hemispheres of our globe, and almost from pole to pole, the voice of thanksgiving to-day is lifted up, for the coming of Christ into the world...

It is a ground of great joy, I think, that we have a Saviour who was born to us,—that is, a Saviour who appeared in our own Nature..., I say, that it is a cause of gratitude and joy, that he did not come to us in a pre-existent glory —that he did not descend from Heaven in the array of an archangel. It is a matter of joy that our Deliverer was clothed with humanity. For this has brought him near us, and established a bond of sympathy which is inestimably precious...
 
Jesus, by his birth, was truly a human being; and in this we should rejoice. He was flesh of our flesh. He had our wants and desires, our hunger and thirst, our sensations of pleasure and pain, our natural passions. He was born of woman, was folded in a mother's arms, was nourished from a mother's breast; and he felt the gratitude, the tenderness of a son. He bore the relations of human life towards kindred, neighbours, and friends. He grew up amidst the labours of mortal men, ate the bread of his own earnings, and was acquainted by experience with the hardships to which the multitude of mankind are exposed. He was thus actually one of our race, a Brother of the great Human Family. And we have reason to rejoice that such a Deliverer was sent to us...
 
I should say that the greater the Redeemer, the stronger was the necessity of his veiling his greatness and of his appearing in the form of a man, and of the lowliest man. Nothing was so needful, as that the Saviour of men should be comprehended in his Virtues and in his Precepts. And for this end, it was important that he should be divested of everything that might overpower the senses ; and that men should be encouraged to approach him nearly, to watch and read his mind in his countenance, tones, and movements, and to make him the object of their deliberate scrutiny...
 
These views should teach us how much we owe to the human birth of Jesus. That placed him in the midst of us. That made him one of ourselves. We can now understand him. We can confide in his sympathy... He wore our Nature; and therefore I know that our Nature is honoured by him, and is precious to him. He was born of woman, thus becoming the brother of us all; and I therefore know that he feels a Brother's love for all. I am, indeed, profoundly impressed with his greatness. I know no superior greatness save that of the Infinite Father. But his human birth, and his participation of human nature, make that greatness endearing and encouraging, not overwhelming and exclusive. Great as he is, he was still born of a woman. That head was pillowed on a mother's breast. Those eyes shed tears over human sorrow. He had sensibility to pain, as we all have, and shrank with natural horror from an agonizing death. Thus he was one of us. He was a Man. I see in him a Brother and a Friend. I feel the reality of that large, loving, human sympathy, which so gloriously distinguished his whole Character and Life. Let us rejoice then that Christ the Saviour was born."
 
Blessings

2 comments:

David G. Markham said...

Dear BU:

I think WEC misses the point. The greatness of Jesus was not that he was born but that He became one with God and showed us the way. He achieved Fotosis as the Greek Orthodox say. He became enlightened.

All human beings are born and many in worse circumstances than the babe in Bethleham.

I think Luke is the only gospel that has this birth narrative in it right? Walt Disney would have done as well.

The fact that Jesus was born was not a big deal. What He did with His life is and I am not referring to the crucifixion.

At any rate, have a great holiday. I am coming to Boston to visit the Mother Church between Christmas and New Year's. I want to see what the Boston Unitarians have been up to all these years. I see it the same as a Catholic visiting the Vatican or a Muslim going to Mecca. Will I be disappointed?

All the best,

David Markham

boston unitarian said...

Hi David,
Thanks, as always, for your comment. About 8 years ago when my wife broached the idea of moving from New York to Boston, my reaction was, "We are moving to Mecca!" I do not think you will be disappointed though the experience is considerably more "spartan" than a visit to the Vatican must be.
Blessings for a wonderful holiday for you and your family as well. BU