Incarnation, Salvation, and Hope

By David F. Watson, Academic Dean and Associate Professor of New Testament, United Theological Seminary

Christmas is about many things to many people. For some people, it is about shopping and presents. For others, it is about spending time with family. For the orthodox believer, however, Christmas is about the Incarnation. At a particular point in history, in a particular place, among particular people, Christ was born—fully divine and fully human. God took on the realities of human existence.

I love to sing Christmas hymns. “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and “Silent Night” are among my favorites. I imagine a peaceful scene of Christ in a manger, a moment of calm before the storm. I’ve visited the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, prayed at the traditional site of Christ’s birth in a grotto under theChurch of the Nativity Grotto church, and marveled at the droves of people who stand in line to take in this venerated site. People from many nations, of many different races, and all different stripes of Christianity come to stand and pray where we believe that God was born into this world as a human child. This is where salvation came into the world, where God’s decisive act against sin and death took place.

For the orthodox believer, Christmas is about the Incarnation, and the Incarnation is about salvation. As we read in Ephesians 2:1-10,

You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else.

But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

To read David Watson’s entire article on the website for United Methodist Scholars for Christian Orthodoxy, please click HERE.


  1. And incarnation is not just theology. It is an actual experience of the Word becoming flesh as we allow Him to live through us. Then we can share words that we have lived, not just religious information:

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