Colossians 1:15 “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation”
“Advent” means that something notable is coming or arriving. As I settle into this Advent season, I find I have a renewed sense of wonder at the arrival of the God of the Universe into this world by way of the Incarnation. Who is this God, Creator and Ruler of All, who would empty himself and take on flesh, coming as an infant, lowly, and new and fully human, to dwell among us (Phil. 2:6-8)? Why did He, in His infinite wisdom and love, choose to save us this way?
I hear the words of St. Athanasius, who hints at the magnitude of the meaning of the Incarnation:
“For this purpose, then, the incorporeal and incorruptible and immaterial Word of God comes to our realm, howbeit he was not far from us before. For no part of creation is left void of him: he has filled all things everywhere, remaining present with his own Father. But he comes in condescension to show loving-kindness upon us, and to visit us. And seeing the race of rational creatures in the way to perish, and death reigning over them by corruption; seeing… how all [people] were under penalty of death, he took pity on our race, and had mercy on our infirmity, and condescended to our corruption, and unable to bear that death should have the mastery – lest the creature should perish and his Father’s handiwork in [humanity] be spent for naught – he takes unto himself a body, and that of no different sort from ours.” (On the Incarnation)
See, the Person of Jesus Christ was the Only One who was and is (1) fit to recreate everything, (2) worthy to suffer on behalf of all and (3) able to be an ambassador for all with the Father. This One who came to save had to be the Creator, the Archetype of humanity, and take on the entirety of our humanness. And when this One came, He restored the Image of God for us all – In His Incarnation, Death and Resurrection, He gave us not only a full picture of who God made us to be, but the means (by salvation and the power of the Holy Spirit) to be who God made us to be.
St. Athanasius goes on to say that Jesus’ work in the Incarnation is akin to a person who, upon hearing that his self-portrait has been marred, sits so that the image can be repainted and restored:
“For as, when the likeness painted on a panel has been effaced by stains from without, he whose likeness it is must needs come once more to enable the portrait to be renewed on the same wood, for, for the sake of his picture, even the mere wood on which it is painted is not thrown away, but the outline is renewed upon it; in the same way also the most holy Son of he Father, being the image of the Father, came to our region to renew man once made in his likeness…” (On the Incarnation 14.1)
Praise to our Incarnational God who was not content to leave us alone, the God who came down to lift us up.
Sarah (Powell) Lee is a member of the camp’s board of directors and works as the director of children, youth and family ministries at St. Peter’s UMC in Ocean City.