ATHANASIUS

  • WAITING’S OVER: TIME TO PARTY!

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Athanasius, Liturgy, Wisdom Wednesday

    No Comments

    Merry Christmas & Happy New Year To You

    Here, then, Macarius, is our offering to you who love Christ, a brief statement of the faith of Christ and of the manifestation of His Godhead to us. This will give you a beginning, and you must go on to prove its truth by the study of the Scriptures. They were written and inspired by God; and we, who have learned from inspired teachers who read the Scriptures and became martyrs for the Godhead of Christ, make further contribution to your eagerness to learn. From the Scriptures you will learn also of His second manifestation to us, glorious and divine indeed, when He shall come not in lowliness but in His proper glory, no longer in humiliation but in majesty, no longer to suffer but to bestow on us all the fruit of His cross—the resurrection and incorruptibility. No longer will He then be judged, but rather will Himself be Judge, judging each and all according to their deeds done in the body, whether good or ill.

    Athanasius

    And here we are, Christmas day.

    Advent, a time of waiting is over.  Today, we rightly celebrate the birth of Jesus, the arrival of the King.  Surprisingly, the creator of all things chose to take on a human body and came as a lowly infant.  However, if you read the gospel accounts, you might notice that he was rather different than most kings.  For years he worked as a carpenter, and then he wandered throughout the countryside of ancient Palestine preaching about the Kingdom of God.  He suffered, was crucified, and left for dead.

    Something strange happened though; according to hundreds of witnesses this Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven.  While I cannot go into great detail here why I believe the resurrection actually happened (see Anglican theologian N.T. Wright for more), I will say that this event changes everything.

    Don’t take it from me though, look into the Gospel accounts.  As sure as the sunrise in the morning, Jesus will return.  It might be next year, it could be in the next millennia, but the King shall return.  Dear reader, he shall return and put the world to rights.  Won’t you place your trust in him today?

    So I pray in closing with the ancient church father Maximus the Confessor,

    May all of us who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ be delivered from the present delights and the future afflictions of the evil one by participating in the reality of the blessings held in store and already revealed in Christ our Lord himself, who alone with the Father and the Holy Spirit is praised by all creation. Amen

    Photo: Mohammadali F. via Compfight

  • WHY I CLING TO HOPE IN ADVENT

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Athanasius, Liturgy, Story, Wisdom Wednesday

    No Comments

    predawn

    We have seen that to change the corruptible to incorruption was proper to none other than the Savior Himself, Who in the beginning made all things out of nothing; that only the Image of the Father could re-create the likeness of the Image in men, that none save our Lord Jesus Christ could give to mortals immortality, and that only the Word Who orders all things and is alone the Father’s true and sole-begotten Son could teach men about Him and abolish the worship of idols But beyond all this, there was a debt owing which must needs be paid; for, as I said before, all men were due to die. Here, then, is the second reason why the Word dwelt among us, namely that having proved His Godhead by His works, He might offer the sacrifice on behalf of all, surrendering His own temple to death in place of all, to settle man’s account with death and free him from the primal transgression.

    Athanasius [1]

    In great stories, we discover that things that were once lost were found.  In Star Wars we find that a good man was lost inside of Darth Vader.  In Lord of the Rings we uncover a long lost ring that needed to be destroyed.  In It’s a Wonderful Life we find hope desperately needed to be recovered by one man.

    Like all great tales, the story that is communicated to us through Scripture has this lost and found element.  In the very beginning scenes of it we are told of a paradise that was lost.  However, while paradise was lost, hope itself was still there.  After the Fall, God offered the good news found in the protoevangelium (first gospel) of Genesis 3:15.

    The Lord God said to the serpent,

    “Because you have done this,
    cursed are you above all livestock
    and above all beasts of the field;
    on your belly you shall go,
    and dust you shall eat
    all the days of your life.
    I will put enmity between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and her offspring;
    he shall bruise your head,
    and you shall bruise his heel.”

    Christian theologians found the hope of Jesus in the tail end of that passage, seeing that Jesus would crush the enemy who caused so much suffering throughout the ages.  As Athanasius pointed out above, Jesus paid the debt of our sins and transgressions.  The lamp humanity broke was not only forgiven, but the cost was paid for by Jesus.

    In the Advent season, we look to the arrival of the One who crushed the head of evil.  Not only did he bear the sins of humanity through a brutal, torturous death naked on a cross, but he also will come again to right the world.  I find hope in the story that Jesus not only created the cosmos so long ago, but he also loves it enough to settle our account with death.  Dear reader, I hope you choose cling to this hope.

    Do you find hope in this story?

    ——

    [1] St. Athanasius (2009-08-19). On the Incarnation (Kindle Locations 364-370). Kindle Edition.

    Photo: paul bica via Compfight

  • WHEN A STORY BECOMES AN EPIC

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Athanasius, Story, Wisdom Wednesday

    No Comments

    Winter morning

    Last week, I wrote about the importance of finding hope in a story.  The story that I referred to started even before the foundation of the universe was in place, before any cataclysmic Big Bang.  This story simply started with the Word.  As John told us, the Word was with God and the Word was God.

    However, the story took a turn for the worse when humanity decided to walk into sin and chose death over life.  Yet while humanity was broken “in sin and error pinning,” God chose to rescue us and provide a path for restoration.  He provided a means for humanity to be put to right order and eventually for all of creation to be restored (see Romans 8).

    Humanity needed a champion, one who could loosen our chains and raise us from the depth of our sins.  The Fourth Century bishop and defender of the faith Athanasius would write,

    What—or rather Who was it that was needed for such grace and such recall as we required? Who, save the Word of God Himself, Who also in the beginning had made all things out of nothing? His part it was, and His alone, both to bring again the corruptible to incorruption and to maintain for the Father His consistency of character with all. For He alone, being Word of the Father and above all, was in consequence both able to recreate all, and worthy to suffer on behalf of all and to be an ambassador for all with the Father. [1]

    Jesus, the Word who took on flesh (the Incarnation), chose to restore our brokenness.  To borrow from an analogy I used a few weeks ago, we broke a lamp and he not only chose to forgive us, but he also paid for the lamp that we broke.  Athanasius would further this point when he wrote,

    For this purpose, then, 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. [2]

    The hope of this story is seen in how God chose to rescue his creation.  He chose to restore the broken and mend their wounds.  The Word, the one who created it all, chose to have the final word by redeeming us. He not only created it all but he also caused the renewal of all. He stooped to our level in his love and revealed himself us.  And like a great epic, at the perfect time, Jesus came and fought for us.

    Photo: blmiers2 via Compfight

    —–

    [1] St. Athanasius (2009-08-19). On the Incarnation (Kindle Locations 145-148). Kindle Edition.

    [2] St. Athanasius (2009-08-19). On the Incarnation (Kindle Locations 142-145). Kindle Edition.

  • HOW I FOUND HOPE IN A STORY

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Athanasius, Wisdom Wednesday

    1 Comment

    Poesia

    Think about your favorite story.

    Great stories hardly are about trivial matters, often they are about something much deeper: vanquishing evil, finding love, choosing forgiveness, or celebrating life.  There are things worth fighting for and there are things worth dying for.

    In the story that started before the words “In the beginning” was even placed on a parchment, there was love.  And out of this love, the Trinitarian dance, a grand story began.  Forged from the fires of supernovas, slowly the universe took shape and life would take root on this planet.  The Word, as John wrote in his gospel account, brought forth creation long ago.  But somewhere things went wrong, as Adam and Eve brought sin and death into this story.  Humanity needed a way back from the path of death to the way of life.

    Athanasius  would capture this way of life, pointing his readers to the Word who became flesh.  He pointedly wrote,

    it was our sorry case that caused the Word to come down, our transgression that called out His love for us, so that He made haste to help us and to appear among us. It is we who were the cause of His taking human form, and for our salvation that in His great love He was both born and manifested in a human body. For God had made man thus (that is, as an embodied spirit), and had willed that he should remain in incorruption. But men, having turned from the contemplation of God to evil of their own devising, had come inevitably under the law of death. Instead of remaining in the state in which God had created them, they were in process of becoming corrupted entirely, and death had them completely under its dominion. [1]

    While humanity was broken “in sin and error pinning,” the Word became flesh and chose to seek after the lost.

    At the core of Advent lies the message of hope: those who were lost can now be found.  Through the first Advent of Jesus, we are saved, “for with his blood mankind he hath bought,” and in his Second Advent, he will put the world to rights.

    —–

    [1] St. Athanasius (2009-08-19). On the Incarnation (Kindle Locations 74-79). Unknown. Kindle Edition.

    Photo: Giulio Bernardi via Compfight