Beholding the Mystery: Who He is and Who We Are – Advent 2023


The Incarnation is one of the most profound mysteries of our faith in which God Himself became Man. Mallory Smyth offers a meditation on what this mystery reveals about who God is, and in doing so, also offers some insight in who we are.

Thank you for watching and participating in this retreat!

Not Registered, yet? Don’t miss the rest of the talks! Register for the Pray More Retreat!


Audio MP3

Click here to download the audio file.

Printable Study Guide PDF

Click here to download the printable study guide.

Printable Transcript PDF

Click here to download the transcript of the video presentation.

Reflective Study Guide Questions

O Holy Night/ The stars are brightly shining/It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth/Long lay the world in sin and error pining/’Til He appears and the soul felt its worth

1. Are you aware of your own need for a savior? Where do you see the consequences of sin in the world and in your life? How has it affected your relationship with God?

2.  Do you know what you are worth to God? Are you confident in God’s love for and delight in you? What lies do you believe about yourself and about God?

3. In what ways do you accept or reject this grace God freely and lovingly offers you through the Incarnation?

4. How might your life be different if you were fully rooted in your identity as a beloved child of God? What would it take for you to see yourself as God sees you?

Text: Beholding the Mystery: Who He is and Who We Are

Hey everyone, I’m Mallory Smyth and I’m so grateful that you are joining me as we come together to behold the mystery of Advent, who He is and who we are. Let’s start in prayer.

Opening Prayer

In the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Come Holy Spirit, fill each of our minds, hearts, bodies, and souls. Advent is such an incredible gift that you have given us to be able to behold the mystery of the incarnation and what it says about who you are and how good you are, but also what it says about us and how you see us and what our destiny is.

Lord, I just bring you all of our stuff. I bring you everything we are bringing to this conversation and this time of prayer today. All of our faults failures, all of our doubts, all of our disappointments, all of our joys, our happiness, our faith, everything in us.

I just offer to you that we would hold nothing back from you, but that we would take this time to dive into the story that you have made us a part of and that it would help us to change the way we see you and ourselves. Amen. And the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

O Holy Night

So, the year was 2010 and I had just moved away from my home where I grew up, which is South Louisiana. And I was living in Florida, working my first like big girl job as an accountant for a very large accounting firm. Two years prior, I had given my life to Jesus Christ and I had fallen in love with Him and was very much trying to live my life for Him. And it was Christmas time.

So, it was about this time of year and I had my radio station changed to that station that every city has that only plays Christmas music. You know the one, it plays Christmas music from Thanksgiving to Christmas Day and it’s nostalgia central, right? We know all the songs, they remind us of Christmases of the past and they’re just quite pleasant. So, I’m driving to work listening to the Christmas Radio Station and Nat King Cole starts singing “O Holy Night.”

Now, I like “O Holy Night.” I’ve heard it many, many times just like you have. I’ve heard it by many, many singers just like you have. And at that time, I would not have said it was one of my favorite Christmas Carols. And yet as I continue to drive, I probably heard the lyrics for the very first time in my life and I was completely and utterly blown away. These are the four lines. “Oh holy night. The stars are brightly shining. It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth. Long lay the world in sin and error pining till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.”

Have you ever heard a lyric more pregnant with meaning, with more of an invitation to invite us into this mystery, right? “Long lay the world in sin and error pining”  for salvation, until He finally appeared on the scene and “the soul felt its worth.” Those lyrics are unbelievable.

Jesus Came in The Fullness of Time

Recently my husband and I were reading through this old Catholic book about Christmas and it was an old author and he was talking about what it means that Jesus came in the fullness of time. And now the author can only speculate, but what he was offering and this again was just his speculation, but that the fullness of time means that that humanity was so mired in sin, was so degraded in our rebellion against God, that we had almost forgotten God all together. Like we barely even remembered God. And it was in that mess that Jesus entered the world. That was actually the fullness of time.

And I just have to wonder, what must it have been like to live before the coming of Christ? Because we don’t know, right? We have lived after the coming of Christ. And so we only know how the story ends. We only know the redemption that He brought. But what would it have been like to live in a humanity that had never known Jesus? How would it have been different? And I have to think that not only, would humanity have forgotten God, but ultimately we’d also forgotten that we were made for good, right? The soul so degraded that it had forgotten that it was worth anything, right? And I know that we have experienced that same thing in a lot of ways, right?

Romans 6:23

Romans 6:23 gives us insight into what that might have been like and what we have experienced in our own lives, right? The beginning of Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death.” Now, I know this is an Advent talk, and sin and death isn’t very hope-filled. But if we are going to understand, just how deep this mystery goes, we have to understand the first part. The bad part of the story, right? For the wages of sin is death. And Romans 3:23 tells us that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, all. Right, no one hasn’t.

And what I love about that is that actually sets us free from comparing ourselves to one another. We don’t have to walk into a room and try to be better than other people, because we all start from the same spot, which is that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We have all gone our own way. And so what are the consequences of that sin?

Well, as Romans 6:23 said, it’s death, but how does death play itself out. Right, it plays itself out in two ways. And the first way we can actually see the immediate consequence of sin. Right and so if we were to pick any sin, we could actually see where death enters in whenever we commit that sin.

So for example, if we lie right, we actually break that relationship of whoever we lied to. And so that relationship which may have been built on trust, is now no longer built on trust, that lie, the sin brought about a death into the relationship. And that relationship, although we can have forgiveness, and although it can be redeemed, it will never be what it once was. The immediate effect of that sin is death. And so we can actually test the truth of that verse by looking out on the world and saying, “What is the consequence of each of these sins? Where do I see death entering in?”

Now, the second meaning of the wages of sin is death is more global, right? And it means that in falling out of perfection and rebelling against God, we actually cut ourself off from relationship with Him. And so where God is perfect and he requires perfection to be with Him forever in heaven, right? We ruined that through our rebellion. And so we are no longer perfect, right? We’ve turned away and alienated ourself from His presence, right? And so the effect of our sin is actually that we brought in death in the sense that we cannot spend eternal life with God. And so that’s the effect.

And what does that do to humanity? It leaves us utterly hopeless with no recourse. Right, completely mired in the death that we’ve earned, right? Humanity as a whole, and of course each one of us individually as we are all recipients of original sin and that brokenness is inside of us, right? When I think of the fullness of time, when I think of humanity in sin and error, pining, right? Knowing that we are hopeless, completely forgetting that we ever had worth that was the situation.

And so often can be the situation today for those of us who do not know Christ, but the second part of Romans 6:23, “So for the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus.” But the gift of God, right? God looked down on us, in our sin, in our error, pining for a savior, pining for a way out. And in a moment, right? Entered into our human experience, the word of God became flesh, the ultimate gift of God, right? Born of a virgin, became a baby on a silent night and a holy night.

And it was through His perfect life and His completely selfless death and resurrection that our soul felt its worth, that a savior came and lifted us out of the muck and the mire of our sin, right? He appeared and the soul felt its worth.

And I just imagine when Jesus was born, this like cosmological earthquake where heaven and earth are shaking and that the soul, our souls could finally exhale and breathe because we remembered that we are worth something, that we were not created for sin and death, but that we’re created for goodness and life and that we are infinitely worthy to Jesus.

Ephesians Chapter 2

Ephesians chapter two reminds us this. It says, “And you, he made alive when you were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world and following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work and the sons of disobedience, 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 he raised us up with him and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

So, even whenever we were dead in our sin, not knowing what we were worth, right? God came and saved us through His grace.

Do You Know What You Are Worth To God?

So, I tell you all of this to ask you these questions, do you know what you are worth to God? Do you know what this advent season is trying to tell you about who you are to Him? Right, because here’s the thing, it’s a gift, but we can’t experience gifts that we don’t open.

And so He can hold His hand out to us all day, wanting to remind us of our salvation and just how loved we are, and we can easily reject it, right? And so many of us, the moment we wake up and look in the mirror, we begin rejecting the gift, right?

And maybe we haven’t rejected the gift of salvation. Maybe we have placed our faith in Jesus Christ and we’re trying to live for Him. But what if we just keep rejecting the message of our own worth, right?

We look in the mirror and immediately we start to hear the lies of the enemy. “You are not good enough. You have failed at this. You will never overcome this sin. How dare you think you are worthy of God’s love.” And yet, the Christmas Carol, “O Holy Night,” said it was just His appearing that helped the soul to feel its worth.

And so I wonder if you just repeated that to yourself, this entire Advent season and beheld the mystery that you who are once in sin and error pining now know your worth, have accepted your worth, have felt your worth at His coming. I wonder if you would lay down all the lies that you decide that you’re going to believe and you accept the truth of Jesus Christ.

That although broken, yes, you are never defined by your brokenness. You are always defined by His infinite and radical love for you and that love for you makes you lovable, makes you delightful. How would you walk around with a different level of confidence? How would you interact with people differently, if you were able to root yourself in that identity, that because He appeared, your soul now knows it’s worth and you are able to live into that and take time this Advent to behold that mystery.

I invite you to take some time and journal with that. How do you see yourself? Do you see yourself as God sees you? And if you don’t ask Him to show you. Let’s close in prayer.

Closing Prayer

In the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen. Father everything we do in the Christian life stems from this, that we were lost and you found us. That we were hopeless and you came to get us. Lord, it is easy to accept it on a macro level.

But I ask Lord, that at this moment you would help us to accept it personally, that we are not defined by our faults and failures, but that we are defined by your goodness, your generosity, and the salvation that you offer us. That all began when you came to Earth to live as we lived in all things except sin.

Lord, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I just dispel any lies that somebody watching, might be hearing in their minds. Lord I ask that you would enter in with the truth of what you want to say, that you would give them a new identity, the one that is theirs to hold onto, to live into and to reject anything that goes against it.

Lord, because you appeared, our souls now know our worth. Help us to know it fully and completely. Amen. The name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

About Mallory Smyth

Mallory Smyth is a national speaker, writer, and content creator for Walking with Purpose. She is the author of the book Rekindled, and has also written the WWP Bible Studies, Reclaiming Friendship, and Rooted and Radiant.

Mallory has been in full time ministry for the past 11 years. She joined Walking with Purpose out of a deep desire to help women come to know Christ personally through the transforming power of His word. Having worked with college students as a FOCUS missionary, and now in women’s ministry, it is her dream to see Catholics fall deeply in love with God and grab hold of the joy offered in the Gospel.

Mallory lives in Denver with her husband, Jared, and their four daughters.

You can learn more about Mallory at