In the early days of the church, when there was just one church and it was centered in Rome and all of the services were in Latin a name rose up for Mary, Mater Dei, Mother of God. It described who she was and her special place as the young woman who literally carried the God baby in her womb. But after a while that Mater Dei began to take on more meaning than part of the church was comfortable with. She began to be drawn in pictures with the same reverence and deity as Christ. She became God-like. So, the Eastern Orthodox Church began to look for a new term to describe Mary. They found the word they were looking for back in the early writings, back when the message of God was still primarily in Greek. The word was THEOTOKOS, Theo–God and TOKOS–the one who carries, or the one who bears. And Mary became the first Theotokos, God-bearer.
One of my all-time favorite verses is in the reading today, 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The Old has gone, the new is here!” I love that the NIV even adds the exclamation point. This is so much my story. I was old, no good, sinful, shameful, and God did away with the old Mike and made me brand spanking, sparkling clean, completely reborn, new Mike. I don’t understand that. I can’t explain it. I’m pretty sure that I didn’t deserve it. But there it is. “All of this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ.” (Verse 18) I started out clean. Then I got dirty. Then God, IN CHRIST, made me new, and clean again. That’ll make you say Merry Christmas.
In fact, Paul says in many other places, not only did God do that by bringing me into Christ, He actually put Christ in me. Later in 2 Corinthians, he will ask, “Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?” (2 Corinthians 13:5) In Galatians 2:20 he writes, “I am crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.” Maybe my favorite “Christ in you” statement is Colossians 1:27, “To whom God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of Glory.” The really neat thing is that Mary was only the first in a 2000-year-old line of God bearers that includes you and me. We are Theotokos. We are God bearers. Not only are we new creatures in Christ, but Christ is in us. And much like Mary carried him into the grungy stable to be born, we carry Him into a dirty, dingy, messed-up world. And for what?
Paul tells us in the last part of verse 18 in 2 Corinthians. “All of this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ AND GAVE US THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION.” You and I, we carry Christ in us so that we can do the same thing Mary did, allow Him to be born into our world, and reconcile our part of the world back to God. Verse 20 says, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors,” His representatives, the ones who speak on His behalf. The old, messed up, sinful, shameful world is looking to how we live, what we do, what we say, to decide if it wants to come back to God. We carry Christ to them.
And, like Mary and Joseph, we carry Jesus into the darkest, dirtiest places that we know. We represent Him to the family that lost their husband to COVID this year, and to the homeless guy on the street, and to the lady that just got a divorce, and to the drunk at the office party, and to the man who lost his job and pretty much all he had this year. We bear Jesus wherever we go during this holiday season and I promise you when we do that, all of Creation, at least the part of it that we know, will be made brand new. Wow! That’s a Christmas present that Amazon can’t deliver.
BTW, my pastor preached a great message on this idea Sunday. God to www.familywc.com and check it out. Two more days. See you tomorrow.