A Doctrine of Participation


I’m beginning a three-week sermon series this Sunday on the Incarnation, that wonderful, mysterious miracle of our God becoming flesh and dwelling among us. Fully human and fully divine. God embracing our humanity, submitting to his creation, joining the world in order to save it. Unfathomable. I’ve prayed over and poured through all of the Scriptures. I’ve highlighted all my commentaries. I’ve re-read Unveiling Glory. I’m making a feeble attempt at trying to preach this in terms of 1) God coming into our sinful situation, our messy world, just the way it is, to save all of mankind; 2) God as a human baby showing us our own weakness and dependence and teaching us how to surrender; and 3) God’s call to join him in his salvation work, to imitate him as he partners with his creation to redeem it back to himself.

 I think I could preach for three or four hours on each topic (but I won’t, I can’t) and still just barely scratch the surface of the depth of the theological realities behind the Incarnation. It’s so rich and meaningful. So full of life-affirming truth.

I like this from Kallistos Ware:

“The Incarnation is a doctrine of sharing and participation. Christ shares to the full in what we are, and so he makes it possible for us to share in what he is, in his divine life and glory. He became what we are, so as to make us what he is. Christ enables us to share in the Father’s divine glory. He is the bond and meeting point: because he is a man, he is one with us; because he is God, he is one with the Father. So through and in him we are one with God, and the Father’s glory becomes our glory…the divine likeness that we are called to attain is the likeness of Christ.”

What we see in the watering trough in the stable in Bethlehem is the coming together of heaven and earth. Creator and creation. Holiness and sinfulness. Angels with their beautiful voices and shepherds with their bleating sheep. The aromas of incense and myrh mixing with the stench of livestock and hay. It all converges in that stable. God and man as one.

How am I supposed to tackle all that?




  1. Mel

    Can you imagine Jesus feeling vulnerable?

    He chose to BE vulnerable so he had to FEEL vulnerable.

    I can’t wrap my brain around the magnitude of that.

  2. Allan

    Dude, that’s a huge part of the sermon on the 23rd. See what I mean about tackling this stuff?!?

  3. Mel

    good luck with that…me…I’ll just be making snow angels.

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