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He took to Himself a body

The great Athanasius on Christmas:

The incorporeal and incorruptible and immaterial Word of God entered our world. In one sense, indeed, He was not far from it before, for no part of creation had ever been without Him Who, while ever abiding in union with the Father, yet fills all things that are. But now He entered the world in a new way, stooping to our level in His love and Self-revealing to us. He saw the reasonable race, the race of men that, like Himself, expressed the Father’s Mind, wasting out of existence, and death reigning over all in corruption. He saw that corruption held us all the closer, because it was the penalty for the Transgression; He saw, too, how unthinkable it would be for the law to be repealed before it was fulfilled. He saw how unseemly it was that the very things of which He Himself was the Artificer should be disappearing. He saw how the surpassing wickedness of men was mounting up against them; He saw also their universal liability to death. All this He saw and, pitying our race, moved with compassion for our limitation, unable to endure that death should have the mastery, rather than that His creatures should perish and the work of His Father for us men come to nought, He took to Himself a body, a human body even as our own. Nor did He will merely to become embodied or merely to appear; had that been so, He could have revealed His divine majesty in some other and better way. No, He took our body, and not only so, but He took it directly from a spotless, stainless virgin, without the agency of human father—a pure body, untainted by intercourse with man. He, the Mighty One, the Artificer of all, Himself prepared this body in the virgin as a temple for Himself, and took it for His very own, as the instrument through which He was known and in which He dwelt. Thus, taking a body like our own, because all our bodies were liable to the corruption of death, He surrendered His body to death instead of all, and offered it to the Father. This He did out of sheer love for us, so that in His death all might die, and the law of death thereby be abolished because, having fulfilled in His body that for which it was appointed, it was thereafter voided of its power for men. This He did that He might turn again to incorruption men who had turned back to corruption, and make them alive through death by the appropriation of His body and by the grace of His resurrection. Thus He would make death to disappear from them as utterly as straw from fire.

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Christmas is about home…

A Theology Network Christmas

The Christmas season is looming! Well, almost… This might seem a little soon, but prompted by the release of the new John Lewis Christmas advert (mind those tears!) and an obsession with starting on the Christmas music early, we’ve been having a think about festive ideas for your Theology Network groups.

CU Carol Services

All around the country Christian Unions organise fantastic Christmas events – such as great carol services in co-operation with their student unions and other societies. As theologians in the Christian Union – get involved! Sing in the choir, bake mince pies or, if you would rather stick to your strengths, offer to do a reading from the bible (1 Timothy 4:13 anyone?)

Or, since the CU Carol Service is usually the biggest evangelistic event of the year, why not organise a pre-event event (if you know what I mean?!). Think mulled wine and mince pies, Christmas music and decorations, and have a speaker (the Carol Service speaker themselves? Or an evangelical lecturer?) give a short talk on ‘Christmas for theologians’. Hold it in a venue close to the church (the divinity department, a pub function room, a large flat) and when done have everyone walk to the Carol Service together!

Christmas debates

It’s only November – but now is a great time to start organising. Get creative now by thinking of ways to share the gospel with theology/divinity departments. Previously, TN groups have hosted debates on the theology of the incarnation, on the virgin birth etc. It’s just a perfect opportunity to challenge other students on the historicity of Jesus’ life and the implications of those nativity events – case in point “you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins”! (Matt.1:21)

Smaller events

If that sounds a little too formal, why not have a think about organising some smaller initiatives that will brighten up your course-mates’ Christmas? Give out candy canes or mince pies in your 9am lectures (you will, we are sure, attend these regularly anyway!), put on a hilarious, do-it-yourself nativity, host a short talk on the real meaning of Christmas, or write something on the same topic for your student newspaper. People love Christmas and they appreciate your generosity and Christmas spirit – they might even start asking questions as to why you love caring for them and why you get so excited around Christmas!

Revision sessions

Finally, have a think about getting together as a group to revise for those pesky Christmas exams. Make a day of it, share some good food, pursue theological excellence, and invite your friends who aren’t Christians to join in!

Give your ideas in the comments below!

Know God better, love Jesus more, join the Christmas revolution!

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Post by Josh Oldfield, Theology Network Relay Intern, 2014-15