Sophia at Christmastime

First Day of Christmas and Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and Feast of the Adoration of the Magi: Melchior, Gaspar & Balthasar and Commemoration of the Shepherds in Bethlehem Who Were Watching Their Flocks and Came to See the Lord

Sophia_Square_3.jpgBUT GOD chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are… ~I Corinthians 1:27-28a

In September, I was gratified (and quite nervous) to give the inaugural address to Sisters of Sophia. But now, here I sit, at the cusp of Nativity.

In September, it seemed important to say all that we DON’T mean as we talk about Sophia, because Sophia has come to mean so many variegated things to people who look for truth. But some Sophias are more important, more true than others.

We found that Hagia Sophia, the Holy Wisdom of God, means nothing more or less than Christ Himself.

The Way, the Truth. Sophia.

And that is well and fine in September. At that time, we noted that Emperor Justinian built Hagia Sophia, the famous church in Turkey. We remembered that it was finished in 573 A.D. Dedicated to Christ, the Logos of God, its patronal feast is December 25th, the celebration of the Incarnation.  

And now, Incarnation.

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In doing some reading on Mary the Mother of God this fall, I learned that there was nothing in the Jewish expectation of the Messiah that He would be born of a virgin. It’s like something God threw in to be fancy; just to show that when you are God, you can do anything.

So God overshadows this virgin who ends up having to put her newborn in a feed box. “And this will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger” (Lk. 2.12).

We seek truth. We seek it in wisdom. We seek it in signs. Some find it there! The Magi found truth in signs of the stars. Some find it in things more outrageous than even that.

The Apostle Paul said:

For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. ~I Corinthians 1:21-25

We preach Christ crucified;  Jesus, this baby who came to die. Did you know that a major use of myrrh during the time of Christ was to anoint the dead and to burn at funerals? Who would give myrrh to a baby?? We Christians are a strange lot. We find power and wisdom in death. In the death of this God-man who came close, so close to us. He became one of us! And in this closeness, this Incarnation, lies all of God. Mere signs and human wisdom cannot suffice.

But what is more is that He invites us to become part of Him, to be involved in His life. This wisdom that Christ is shows itself in Incarnation, but we can be God-bearers, too! “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption” (I Cor. 1.30).

A voice. One of the Nativity hymns of the ancient Church is sung:

What shall we offer Thee, O Christ, Who for our sakes hast appeared on earth as man? Every creature made by Thee offers Thee thanks: The angels offer a hymn; The heavens a star; The wisemen gifts; the shepherds, their wonder; The earth, its cave; the wilderness, a manger. And we offer Thee a virgin mother.

We are given Christ, as gift. We are given earth, as gift. If we are wise, we will give back all that we are given. The heavens, the myrrh, wonder, the cave, the feed box, and a virgin mother. They seem such small things, don’t they? They are compared to Incarnation. To Immanuel, God with us. But as we participate in the foolishness of God, we become wise, indeed. We begin to have the mind of Christ.

So let us revel in this foolishness of God that is Wisdom Himself. The infant born of a virgin, the baby in the manger. The God-man who came to die. And to live again. And to live in us. Let us receive Sophia into the very pith and marrow of who we are, and begin to live that incarnational wisdom each day.

What can I give Him? Give Him my heart! ~Christina Rossetti

Nyleen Lenk reads, writes, worships, and teaches people shorter than she is. To her, the most important thing is wonderment; and this is why she hides her life with Christ in God. She lives in Wichita with her husband the photographer, her stepsons the gamers, and her cat who is channeling Marmie from Little Women.

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