The Blessed Exchange
Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko
Christmas & Epiphany, 2011-2012
Orthodox Christian Scriptures proclaim -- and the Liturgy celebrates, the Sacraments realize, the Icons depict, the Canons protect, the Martyrs witness, the Fathers explain, and the Saints live --the Blessed Exchange that God accomplished in the incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection and glorification of His Son Jesus Christ, by the Holy Spirit’s power, for the salvation of humanity and the whole of creation:
God became human to make humans divine.
God became visible to allow humans to see Him.
God became touchable to allow humans to touch Him.
God spoke in human words to allow humans to hear Him.
God entered earthly time to make humans eternal.
God took flesh to make human bodies His dwelling.
God lived as a creature on earth to recreate the whole of creation.
He was a human being so that by His humanity we could become gods by grace.
He was small so that by His smallness we could become divinely great.
He was poor that so by His poverty we could become divinely rich.
He was weak so that by His weakness we could attain God’s power.
He was a fool in this world so that we could attain God’s wisdom.
He emptied Himself so that by His emptiness we could be filled with all the fullness of God.
He became the servant of all so that by his servitude we could all reign with Him.
He became nothing so that through His nothingness we could become everything.
He was homeless that by being a stranger He could take us home with himself to God.
He was naked that by His nakedness He could clothe us with himself.
He was wounded that by His wounds we could be healed.
He was without comeliness or form that we could be splendidly beautiful.
He was arrested that by being imprisoned we could be liberated.
He hungered that by his hunger He could be the Bread of Life for all who eat Him.
He thirsted that He could give us the Living Water that we would never thirst again.
His Body was broken that we who eat Him could be made whole.
His Blood was shed that we who drink Him could never die.
He became Sin that in Him we might become the Righteousness of God.
He became a Curse that in Him we might become the Blessedness of God .
He became a Corpse that in Him we might be forever Alive.
He suffered to free us from our sufferings.
He endured the Passion to free us from our passions.
He was tempted, tested and tried, just as we are, so that we could be victorious in Him.
He died the most vile death that a man, especially a Jew, could possibly die that we could live as God intended us to live, both now in this world and in the age to come.
To Him be glory, honor, worship, dominion, praise and thanksgiving, with God His Father and His all holy, good and life-creating Spirit, now and forever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through Him, and without Him nothing came to be that came to be; in Him was life and the life was the light of men… and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld His glory, glory of the only-begotten Son from the Father…and from His fullness have we all received, grace upon grace. (Jn 1:1-16)
In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by a Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom also He created the ages. He is the radiance of the Father’s glory, the exact image of the Father’s person, upholding the universe by the word of His power….who for a little while was made lower than the angels, crowned in glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone….since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself partook of the same nature, that through death he might destroy Him who has the power of death, and deliver all those who through the fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage…therefore He had to become like His brethren in every respect.…for because He Himself has suffered and been tempted, He is able to help those who are tempted…. (Heb 1:1-3. 2:9, 14-18)
Though He was in the form of God (He) did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but He emptied Himself, taking the form of a bonded slave, being born in the likeness of man, and being found in human form, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. (Phil 2:5-11)
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have touched with our hands, concerning the Word of life – the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and bear witness to it, and proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us – that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have communion with us, and our communion is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing this to you that our joy may be full. (1Jn 1:1-4)