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The Christmas Egg : Anglo-Saxon abbot Elfric tentatively likened the new-born Jesus to an egg.
The Christmas Egg

From A Sermon on Christmas Day, by Elfric of Eynsham (955-1010), adapted from a translation by Benjamin Thorpe.

In a Sermon for Christmas Day, Anglo-Saxon abbot Elfric of Eynsham likened the new-born baby in the manger to an egg. His purpose was serious: he wanted his congregation to understand that Jesus Christ was the incarnate Son, Word and Wisdom of God, not merely a prophet or good man that God loved like a son.

THE Word begotten without beginning of the Almighty Father was always God from God, Wisdom of the wise Father. He is not made, because he is God and not a creature; for the Almighty Father created all creatures through that Wisdom,* and quickened them through the Holy Spirit.*

Mankind could not see Christ’s divine begetting; yet that same Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, that we might see him.* Not that the Word turned to flesh: he was clothed in flesh.

Every man has soul and body yet remains one man; likewise, Christ remains in divinity and humanity one person, one Christ.* Nonetheless, his divinity was not mingled with his humanity, nor was there any separation. We might suggest an example, if it is not too trivial. Look at an egg, how the white is not mingled with the yolk, yet they make up one egg.

* Elfric is quoting the Creed of the Council of Constantinople in 381. It is more commonly known as the Nicene Creed, because the first draft was issued by the Council of Nicaea in 325. See also John 1:1-4.

* See Genesis 2:7. Pnevma in Greek (πνεύμα), like ruach in Hebrew, means not only ‘spirit’ but ‘wind, breath’.

* See John 1:14, John 14:9, and 1 John 1:1-4.

* Elfric does not mean that the Son of God took the place of Jesus’s human soul. The English Church had already officially declared her belief that Christ has a human soul and will: see The Synod of Hatfield. He means that although God’s Son took a whole human nature – body, soul, will and all the rest – onto himself as his own, the end result was still a single person. Consequently, we can say that God has himself been born of a woman, and that Mary gave birth to God in the flesh. This was made clear at the Council of Ephesus in 431 and again at the Council of Chalcedon in 451: see How St Euphemia Saved Christmas.

From A Sermon on Christmas Day, by Elfric of Eynsham (955-1010), adapted from a translation by Benjamin Thorpe.

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Picture: © Manojz Kumar, Wikimedia Commons. Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0. View original
Candlewicks burning in eggshells, which might make a nice Christmas tradition if someone didn’t declare it a fire hazard. Even in Elfric’s day, many Christians watered down Christmas to make Jesus a good man beloved of God, rather than Emmanuel, God-with-us, God himself incarnate. Elfric knew, however, that the God of Israel is not the kind of coach to sit up in the director’s box, wearing an immaculate suit and relaying instructions through a righthand man. In the Bethlehem cave, he squeezed himself into a pair of our muddy boots and pulled on one of our bloodied, sodden shirts, and turned out for the team.
By Elfric of Eynsham

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