The Spirit of Christmas

Christmas is all about Jesus. The angels announce Jesus’ birth, shepherds and wise men come to see Jesus, Herod wants to kill Jesus. We occasionally think of the Father who sent the Son, but we keep returning to the Son made flesh in Bethlehem’s manger. Meanwhile, as always, the Spirit takes a back seat.

Yet, Christmas is a thoroughly Trinitarian event, and the Spirit is as crucial here as He is everywhere else. Advent celebrates the coming of the Son, but the Son comes by the Advent of the Spirit.

The incarnation itself is the work of the Spirit, who overshadowed Mary, as He overshadowed the formless and empty earth before creation, so that He could form the new creation in the incarnate Son. He filled John, so that John leapt in the womb like David before the ark. He loosed the tongue of Zacharias to sing of the fulfillment of Yahweh’s oath to Abraham. He led Simeon into the temple to see the infant Jesus and to announce He was the light to the Gentiles.

Without the Spirit, Jesus is a historical curiosity. Unless the Son who came by the Spirit keeps coming by the Spirit, we have no living communion with Jesus.

During this season, give thanks to the Father for the gift of the Son, and rejoice in the Son for taking the form of a servant for us. But don’t forget the equal and necessary gift of the Spirit of Advent, the One by whom the Son came, the One by whom the Son still comes.

Peter J. Leithart is President of Theopolis.