Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Word Became Flesh: Rediscovering The Same Old Story of the Incarnation

It is time to talk about the Incarnation. For Christmastide looms nigh, dear ones. Indeed, only a few days from now the Church beckons the faithful to recall the yearly remembrance that Christ has indeed come to 'ransom captive Israel'.

The Christ-Mass, as its traditionally known, draws us to the Chris-Child in our midst, the one who 'came down to earth from Heaven, who is God and Lord of all'. Thus rejoicing is fitting indeed: Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

But Emmanuel shall not just come and depart in the middle of the night. He shall restore, redeem and save and sup with us forever. That's the mystery of the Incarnation: namely, that Jesus Christ has come in the fullness of time to save.

‘Who for us and our salvation became human’, as the Nicene Creed puts it, is the singular expression ‘that for Christians defines the difference between the old and new age, between the first and the new creation’, writes Luke T. Johnson. Thus, Christians believe that through the ‘act of divine condescension and generosity’, which is the Incarnation, we find the ‘basis for the Christian faith’. Former Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey, rightly called the Incarnation the absolute ‘heart of Christian belief’.

'The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us', shouts St. John's gospel. 'We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth'.

What else, friends, can give you more joy, more comfort than this great solemnity of the Incarnation of Our Lord & Saviour Jesus Christ?

Christmastide means that God in Christ, ‘being the Word of the Father and above all’, entered our world – through Mary’s ‘yes’ – so that ‘He Himself’ should not disappear from it as the supreme artificer. In the fullness of time, writes St. Paul, God sent forth his Son (Gal 4:4). ‘For He alone was in consequence both able to recreate all’, maintains St. Athanasius,' and He alone was 'worthy to suffer on behalf of all and to be an ambassador for all with the Father’. Rejoice, brothers and sisters, our redeemer has come!

Hence, we discover both the reason and absolute necessity of the Incarnation. We must never waiver: the Incarnation, the ‘whole historico-redemptive moment in the Old and New Testaments’, as Torrance describes it, is the true fountainhead of all theology and the pivotal act of the restoration of the Divine Image together with the reconciling of the entire cosmos.

If you haven't considered re-thinking the Incarnation lately, now is the time. Now is the time to consider once more what has transpired on our behalf. Now is the time to recall again that Christ ‘came to redeem us for something’, writes von Balthasar, which is ‘an entry, by grace, into the life of the Blessed Trinity’. This is our lot in life, as adopted heirs of the Most High!

Still, though, many well-meaning wonderful people skip right over the Incarnation and fail to re-recall its enduring efficacy as the sine qua non of the Christian story. But, brothers and sisters, we must continually re-recall the wonders of the Redeeming Christ-Child, whose dwelling place - even now - is 'with men' (Revelation 21:3). Now is the time so to do.

So, too, in the spirit of re-recalling supreme joy, I want to re-think my simple whole roasted chicken recipe. I have been working on considering changing my tried-and-true version for some time now. And, you'll be glad to know, I'm now reconsidering the whole roasted chicken and what it can do for my readers who love the bon vivant - those who know the joie de vivre in the kitchen and sharing a meal around the table with friends and family.

I'm, of course, asking you to do the same thing with respect to the Incarnation: consider pondering it anew and with renewed vigour.

Now, of course, a chicken is just a tiny little aspect of joy - nothing like the Incarnatus Est - but it surely fits the bill at dinner time and makes people smile. After all these years, that simple little bird still thrills and delights even the most refined palates.

Charleston's Whole Roasted Chicken: Re-Appreciated, Re-Vamped & Re-Recalled


1 whole roasting chicken (brined, trimmed and placed in a roasting pan)
1 stick of unsalted butter plus 2 TBSP reserved for pan sauce
1 TBSP thyme
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
3 TBSP fresh cracked pepper
1.5 tsp black or white truffle oil
1/4 cup chicken broth or stock


The day before you want to enjoy this bird, brine the chicken. Follow to the letter the perfect brining instructions found at Cooks Illustrated website in a pdf:


Take into account the weight of your bird and the amount of time it will need to brine. You want a moist chicken, not a salty one. Because our commercial chickens grow so quickly, they lose most of their moisture content, so brining restores that juicy flavour you remember from childhood at Grandma's house.

Pat dry your bird and place it breast side up in the roasting pan. Melt the stick of butter and rub all over the bird, tugging gently on the skin to get butter inside the bird. Use the whole stick of butter and more if you're really feeling frisky. Sprinkle herbs on top and place in a pre-heated 425 degree oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and cook for another twenty minutes. Check the internal temperature of the bird by placing an instant-read thermometer in between the thigh and breast. It should read 155-165 degrees (it will continue to cook once removed).

Once the chicken is cooked, remove it and the roasting pan from the oven and set the chicken aside to redistribute for at least ten minutes. Meanwhile, place the roasting pan directly on the stove, add the truffle oil, some chicken broth and the remaining butter. Scraping up the drippings and thereby incorporating them into the sauce, boil until the mixture is reduced slightly and a bit thickened.

Slice the chicken as you desire, pour the sauce over each section, saving some for extra at the table, and enjoy. I am utterly convinced this is the finest way to cook a whole roasted chicken, period.


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