Tag Archives: Incarnation

Newness under the Son

by Carrie Frederick Frost

Cristo Redentor statue
Image credit: Donatas Dabravolskas

Is there nothing new under the sun? Is it the case that all of life is an ordered and predictable cycle? That what has been is what will be and what is done is what will be done (Eccl. 1:9)? This sense of the unending monotonous repetition of human experience is not confined to the early agricultural society in which Ecclesiastes was composed; it is known to us here in the twenty-first century. I drive the children to school today, and I will do the same tomorrow. My husband goes to the grocery store tonight only to return later in the week. The media reports the depressing stories of climate change and pandemic and will report the same next month.

The quotidian often feels monotonous and even oppressive, and this makes us seek difference and change. A new sweater brings a jolt of delight. Walking a different route to work means noticing different houses, people, dogs. But these novelties are fleeting—the sweater is only briefly new for so long and the delight wears off. The new route becomes the old route before too long. The sense that what has been is what will be sinks in. We wonder, is anything really new? Is anything truly novel? Is there any release from this cycle?

Christmas answers these questions with a resounding “yes.”

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The Bread, the Wine, and the Mode of Being

by Rev. Dr. Chrysostom Koutloumousianos | ελληνικά | српски

Icon, The Bread of Life

The recent reappearance of the ancient terror of a pandemic has prompted fertile conversation among theologians and literary people across the world. Various opinions have been articulated, such as that disease can be transmitted through the current way of distributing holy communion, or that the Eucharistic Gifts themselves can be bearers and transmitters of pathogenic germs. It is said that since the bread and the wine do not alter their essence and essential properties, it follows that they are subject to decay and can also spread toxic viruses. This idea has supposedly found Christological grounds as well in that the human body of Christ is a carrier of germs which can be harmful to us, though not to Him; after all, germs themselves are not bad, since there is nothing bad in creation.

Within this framework, the following evidence drawn from the writings of the Fathers might be relevant and useful.

Undoubtedly, there is nothing bad in creation. No form of life, nor even natural destruction can be considered as bad, because evil is only that which alienates us from God. However, one should also consider the products of personal sin, such as, for example, a dangerous laboratory hybrid, as well as the effects of the ancestral Fall, namely decay and death, to which the human being has been submitted. Now, God’s incarnation manifests something entirely new in the world.

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God, Evil, and COVID-19

by Paul Gavrilyuk | ελληνικά

Epitaphios, Stavronikita Monastery, Mt. Athos

Our current pandemic has brought us face-to-face with the reality of human mortality, our susceptibility to disease and death. We no longer confront death in the abstract: its long hand has reached out to our communities and, in some cases, even touched our families. In our big extended family called the Church, we have become more aware of our common brokenness, and we are called to become more compassionate, more responsive to each other’s needs.

Throughout the Church’s history, communities that have been visited by similar or greater disasters, including “famine, plague, earthquake, flood, fire, and sword,” have always asked for divine protection in prayer. In addition to imploring God for protection, their members in the past and today have wondered, where is God amidst horrendous human suffering? And why would God allow suffering on such an astonishing scale?      

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Maternal Body

by Carrie Frederick Frost

About a decade ago I found myself pregnant with triplets halfway through work on a PhD in theology at the University of Virginia. My husband and I had thought long and hard about having a third child, so the joke was on us when—to our total surprise—we learned at a routine ultrasound that I was carrying not just our third child, but also our fourth and fifth. One of my many reactions to this news was to write a book.

Admittedly, penning a work of incarnational theology many not be the typical reaction to a triplet pregnancy, but there’s really nothing typical about a triplet pregnancy. For me, even though I had been a mother of two for several years already, the prospect of a trifecta of infants raised the spiritual stakes of motherhood: I was deeply driven to know more about how motherhood was understood within the Orthodox Christian theological tradition. Continue reading