The Creed: And Was Incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and Became Man

From early times in the Church, there have always been people who questioned Our Lord’s humanity. Which words of the Creed begin the passage that tells us that Jesus is truly Man? What does the word incarnation actually mean?

That Christ became human is essential to our salvation. The words of the Creed tell us that Christ was not only completely God, but also completely man because He took flesh from the Virgin Mary. That is what incarnation means: “to take on flesh.” In the Creed, the Church Fathers wrote, “…and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and was made man…” to attest to the true humanity of Jesus. Jesus, however, was not a mere mortal; He was, and is, the man whom the Son of God has become.

As Jesus was both God and Man, He achieved reunion with God for us in His very Being. He continued the act of salvation by His life, death, and Resurrection. In the early centuries, whether Jesus truly suffered and died was a matter of dispute. Hence the need to state in the Creed that indeed, as truly Man, He suffered and died, as anyone would, on the cross.

While it may seem odd to place the Annunciation, the Nativity, and the Crucifixion so close together (as they are in the Creed), they teach a lesson beyond that of Jesus’ true humanity. Namely they all show the “pouring out” or kenosis of Our Lord. Jesus poured out His being first into flesh, when He became Man, and then on the cross. As He did, so we are to do – we are to “pour out,” or sacrifice, ourselves for others.

Try this: Together as a family, discuss Christ’s humanity vs. His divinity as shown in scriptures. Divide into teams and have each person try to win a point for their team by identifying a scripture as demonstrating His humanity or His divinity as suggested in this activity: http://dce.oca.org/assets/files/resources/Jesus-Humanity-Divinity-Preteens.pdf

Families with teens can watch this explanation of the Incarnation and discuss it together: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YIKXJxcDU0

Find age-leveled ideas for discussing the incarnation with your children here: http://www.thrivingfamily.com/Family/Faith/2009/god-with-us.aspx

Want to learn more about the incarnation? Download St. Athanasius’ book “On the Incarnation” and study it! http://www.ccel.org/ccel/athanasius/incarnation

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