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  • Writer's picturePastor Ryan Quanstrom

The Burning Bush

On March 25, the older Christian traditions, (as well as some evangelicals who have rediscovered our Christian history), celebrated the Annunciation. This Christian holiday celebrates when the angel came to Mary. Gabriel came calling Mary the Favored one, telling her not to be afraid. Then Gabriel says that she will be with child and that she shall name the child Jesus. Mary's response to all this is,"Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” You can read the full story in Luke 1:26-38. Mary truly is favored. She is the only person in all of creation who has born God.. One of the great debates in the early church was over Mary bearing Jesus. Some people started teaching that Mary was "Christokos" which means "the Christ bearer." They said this instead of saying "Theotokos" which means God bearer. Many believed that Mary could not contain the fullness of God. But Colossians 1:19 teaches us that in Jesus the fullness of God was pleased to dwell. Orthodox tradition teaches us that in the Incarnation Jesus is always fully God and fully human. Mary did not just bear Christ, Mary bore God.

In this fashion she is like the burning bush, for the bush burned with God's presence, but it was not consumed by the fire. Mary bore God, but it was destroyed, instead she is blessed. Mary is blessed because she said yes to God. She was obedient to God. Frequently Israel was disobedient to God. Their disobedience could be considered a "no" to God. Mary says yes. In this way she begins to undo the fall. Mary is the opposite of Eve. Eve ate the forbidden fruit and all her children have sinned. Eve was pulled from Adam. Mary said yes to God, and her Son was without sin. instead of being pulled from Adam, the 2nd Adam, Jesus, was pulled from her. Creation begins anew in her womb. What makes all this the more incredible is that Mary could have said no. The Russian theologian Sergius Bulgakov writes: "Grace does not coerce man; it does not nullify his freedom. Freedom remains subject to the possibility of seductions and temptations... [Mary] readily accepted the good news of the Annunciation." Mary was not coerced. She was free to say no, but instead she used her freedom to choose God. There are many parallels between those who are in Christ and Mary. Since Pentecost, we have had the possibility of letting God's Holy Spirit dwell in us. We too can be so filled, and we need not fear our destruction. We need not fear God's coercion. We have been blessed by God to be able to accept or reject. So what do you do? When God tells you God wants to do something great in your life do you say yes or no? How do you use your freedom, to serve yourself or to serve God? I pray you say yes to God daily.

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