Anthony Bloom

One of the characteristics of a genuinely healthy spiritual life is temperance. We know in ordinary speech what sobriety means in comparison to drunkenness. One can get drunk in various ways, and not only through wine. Everything that fascinates us so much that we no longer can remember God or ourselves, nor the basic values of life: this is a form of drunkenness. It has no connection to what I have called inspiration – the inspiration of a scholar, of an artist, to whom God has given the ability to see behind the outward form to that which surrounds it: a certain depth of being, which he can draw out and express in sounds, or lines, or colours so as to make it accessible to the people around it who were blind to it. But when we forget specifically that very meaning revealed by them and create an object of delight out of that which should be an object of contemplation – then we lose our sobriety. In Church life it happens so often and so destructively, when people come to church because of the singing, or because of the emotions that are aroused by the harmony of the mystery of the divine service, when God is no longer in the centre of everything but only the experience that is the fruit of his presence. The essential feature of Orthodox piety, of Orthodox spirituality, is sobriety, which transfers everything of value and its entire meaning from itself to God.

Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh, Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh: Essential Writings , 132-133.

In the Incarnation God enters into human history. God enters into the becoming and the destiny both of mankind and of the cosmos. He takes complete, full, crucifying responsibility for His original act of creation and for all that has ensued. On the one hand, the Son of God becomes the Son of Man; on the other hand, the Word of God becomes flesh, so that the fulness of God is seen in the flesh, is present in the created world, visible, tangible, yet more unfathomable than before. In the Incarnation God enters into history. It means that He not only launches the process of history, not only watches it, intervening in it by grace through the men who know Him, the prophets and the patriarchs, and the saints and the angels, not only waiting for its end, but that entering into it He accepts becoming somehow part and parcel of this becoming of mankind and of the world. He is incarnate once and for all. He will never cease to be the Son of God who has become the Son of Man. And after His resurrection, when He ascends into Heaven, He does not shed the flesh He has received from the Virgin, but this flesh, still bearing the marks of the nails, still pierced at the side by the spear, still bruised on the shoulder by the carrying of the cross and on the forehead by the crown of thorns – this flesh is taken by Him into the very heart of the divine mystery, and it is the incarnate Son of God who is at the right hand of the Father. In that sense the whole of history, the whole of human becoming is already, in an exemplary way, fulfilled, realised and revealed to us now already. And this is why St. John Chrysostom said, “If you want to measure the greatness of man, look up towards the throne of God, and you will see a Man seated at the right hand of glory”. And moreover, the glory of God is this victory won by man, not by a man called Jesus Christ, but in Him, through Him together with us, by man, again in an incipient, germinal way now, which will be revealed in its fulness when the time comes, so that in the end, in the words of St Irenaeus of Lyon, the glory, the splendour, the resplendence of God is man fully alive, fully realised.

So we see that in the Incarnation God enters into the world of men, becomes one with us, not pedagogically and not temporarily, but by a union, a commitment which is for ever. And He enters into a world which at times is a world of horror, and is there in the anguish and tragedy of mankind, never escaping it.

You probably remember from the Old Testament the story of the three children thrown into the furnace – the three young men. And the Assyrian king, looking at the furnace into which three young men tied have been thrown, says, “Didn’t we throw three men into the furnace and lo, they are walking about in the flames, and I see a fourth one whose face is that of the Son of Man.” Wherever man is, God is present.

Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom) of Sourozh, here.