One day God became man, and a manger the storm center of the universe.

The event of Christmas is so pivotal, so signifcant that we ask the wrong question when we ask what Christmas means. Without Christmas, we should ask, what would anything mean? The birth that is Christmas does not orbit history. History, once looking forward and now looking back, revolves around it. Could the world mean something without the reality of Christmas? Indeed, could the world even be without it?

The ancient Athanasian Creed affirms that Jesus Christ became man “not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking of Manhood into God.…” The magnificent Incarnation, which challenged flesh to contain God, has challenged the most luminous divines and writers to contain it with words. It is a challenge that has produced some of mankind’s greatest poetry and hymnody. And it has always—from Augustine to Eliot—stretched language to its breathtaking limits.

The hands that had made the sun and stars were too small to reach the huge heads of the cattle.… And God who had been only a circumference was seen as a center.

—G. K. Chesterton

He it is by whom all things were made, and who was made one of all things; who is the revealer of the Father, the creator of the Mother; the Son of God by the Father without a mother, the Son of man by the Mother without a father; the Word who is God before all time, the Word made flesh at a fitting time, the maker of the sun, made under the sun; ordering all the ages from the bosom of the Father, hallowing a day of to-day from the womb of the Mother; remaining in the former, coming forth from the latter; author of the heaven and the earth, sprung under the heaven out of the earth; unutterably wise, in His wisdom a babe ...

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