(This is Neil). Here is an excerpt from the very latest “Life in Christ” column, written by the Orthodox priest and exegete, John Breck. It clearly and succintly gets to the heart of things:
As much as any other Christian feast, the significance of Christ’s Nativity comes to expression by means of “antinomies.” These are paradoxical affirmations that speak of the ineffable mystery of the Incarnation by juxtaposing apparent contradictions.
The most obvious of these is found in the prolog of St John’s Gospel, which declares that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” (1:14). As the context makes clear (a point missed by the translators of the New Revised Standard Version of the New Testament) that Word or Logos is the Person of the eternal Son of God. He whom the Church worships as “one of the Holy Trinity” has entered into the realm of time and space, the fallen world of human life and experience, to “become man,” a human being like ourselves. Yet He does so “without change,” that is, without ceasing to be divine; in theological language, the Subject of the incarnate Lord remains the eternal Logos. Although He takes upon Himself the fullness of human nature – He assumes a human body and mind, He “becomes a human soul” – He nevertheless remains the eternal Son, “one in essence” with the Father and the Holy Spirit. This is the first and most striking antinomy: through His Incarnation Jesus of Nazareth has become the “God-man.” He is neither a mere human being who happens to work miracles, nor is He a God who simply “appears” to be a man. He is “God in the flesh.” And He will remain so until the consummation of all things, when God will be “all in all” (1 Cor 15:28).
[I]t is in the Kontakion of the feast that the great wonder of Christ’s Nativity in the flesh finds its most succinct and sublime expression. “Today the virgin gives birth to the transcendent one, and the earth offers a cave to the unapproachable one. Angels, with shepherds, glorify Him! The wise men journey with the star. Since for our sake the eternal God was born as a little child.”
“Since for our sake the eternal God was born as a little child.” This is the true meaning, the ultimate and, indeed, the only true significance, of Christmas. If the eternal God, utterly unknowable, unfathomable, incomprehensible in His innermost being, deigned to enter into the sphere of our daily life, to assume the burdens and suffering of people like ourselves, He did so for one purpose only: to rescue us from the consequences of our sinful rebellion against the Author of Life, and to raise us up from death and corruption.
As the Church Fathers never tired of declaring, “He became what we are, so that we might become what He is.” The eternal Son of God “took flesh” and “became man” so that we might participate now and forever in all the joy and all the glory of His divine Life.