As I write this post, the clock is close to striking 12:00 midnight. It’s about to be Christmas Eve. There is much to be thankful about during this time of year. And as I have spent this Advent season amongst wonderful communities — my family, my church, and the seminary where I teach — I do give thanks for the blessing it is to live my life as a part of them.
We are preparing to celebrate the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, who came into the world to save us sinners and turn us back to God. That incomparable gift is the true reason to give thanks at all. It is the blessing that makes all other blessings possible, and it is the means whereby we can be renewed in God’s own image. As I recorded once on my old website, this is a gift of God perhaps best explained to us by Athanasius of Alexandria in his magnificent treatise, On the Incarnation:
For seeing that men, having rejected the contemplation of God, and with their eyes downward, as though sunk in the deep, were seeking about for God in nature and in the world of sense, feigning gods for themselves of mortal men and demons; to this end the loving and general Savior of all, the Word of God, took to himself a body, and as man walked among men and met the senses of men halfway, to the end, I say, that they who think God is corporeal may from what the Lord effects by his body perceive the truth, and through him recognize the Father.”
The reason my posting on this blog has been so infrequent during the second half of this year is related to the major scholarly project I’ve been completing during that time — namely, the writing of my dissertation, “John Wesley and the Means of Grace: Historical and Theological Context.” I finally completed the dissertation in November and defended it before my committee at Duke Divinity School earlier this month. For me and my family that is, of course, another reason to be thankful!
For those of you who follow me on this website, what this means is that there will hopefully be more material to actually follow as 2012 gives way to 2013. My self-imposed moratorium on most things not related to my dissertation can now be lifted. And I plan for that to mean both some updates to the website as well as much more frequent writing on this blog. So if you’ve stuck with me through the lull, I thank you. And feel free to send any feedback that you think would make the website more compelling or user-friendly.