Sunday, October 1, 2023

The Kenosis Creed

Good Friday before Easter Sunday. Crucifixion before Resurrection. Fast before Feast. Darkness before Light. Weeping before Rejoicing. Death before Life. 

These pairs, and their this-before-that emphasis, sum up the Christian mindset on many things. They also contain (implicitly or explicitly) the sum of the good news, which we call the kerygma, the distilled and powerful proclamation of the apostles: "For I handed down to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures." 

Philippians Ch. 2 adds more terms to the pairs: Humility before glory, debasement before exaltation, human scandal before divine vindication. It also takes the kerygma and widens the timeline of cross-before-crown. An eternal God surrendering his majesty and emptying himself, becoming a weak baby and a crucified rebel, but his Father loving the Son's humility and sacrificial love, exalting him not just in time and on earth, but for ages unending throughout the whole universe. 

And while St. Paul is telling the story of the paschal mystery, he ends up giving us a creed as well, the Creed of Kenosis, a tableau of a self-denying diety as proof of God's power, of a Father glorifying a Son for his abject defeat. This, he says, is the inner life of God. Paul pens a creed, proclaims a scandal, and tells his dearest companions to imitate that scandal because they cling to that creed. 

(The last part is me wrapping this back around to our annual appeal to support our seminarians, in case that part is confusing.)

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