Flesh Remade
Tuesday of Advent 1
5 December 2017
God created all things in relative proximity to Him and His nature. Because He made all things, He pronounced all things good (Gn 1). This goodness comes from no other source but Himself. The nearer to God the creatures were, the fuller their participation in His goodness. Those whom He created last of all through the loving kiss of life by the breath of the Spirit (Gn 2:7), were endowed with the supreme gifts of reason and true spiritual freedom. They had both the divine wisdom with which to see the superiority of their maker, and the freedom to reject that which they saw so clearly; making their fall all the more shocking and all the more grief-filled. They saw God face to face, and turned from this sublime contemplation to look into the dark. These creatures who were closest to Him fell from their contemplation of Him into the contemplation of themselves; the most ambivalent navel gazing that could ever be imagined.
 
But the supremely good God could not abandon us to our just deserts through the fall, but planned to condescend to our need, taking on the form of a servant through Christ's incarnation of the Virgin Mary. Since we had forfeited the true joys attendant upon our human nature through its perfect fellowship with God, God descended to raise us into His care by taking on human flesh. He rescues by coming down to raise up degraded human flesh. Here is goodness indeed! He did not leave us to wallow in the mud created by our fall into the barnyard flooded by unreason and our beastly nature. If God can't make a silk purse of a sow's ear, we humans are in truly deep trouble; our nature will truly be irredeemable. It does not seem reasonable that God should take a second pass at saving humanity, given man's direct choice to make the wrong choice.
 
No such doubt will stop God's passionate and even unreasonable love. He will not repent His choice of us, who now choose nothing but sin. He will not abandon us to our abandonment of Him. Instead, He has remade our nature by taking it into Himself through the incarnation. What we had ruined He remakes through joining it with the Word of God. That remaking becomes ours through baptism in which we are immersed in His life, death, and resurrection. 

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   John of Damascus
"God, who is good and altogether good and more than good, who is goodness throughout, by reason of the exceeding riches of His goodness did not allow Himself, that is His nature, only to be good, with no other to participate in it. But because of His goodness He made first the spiritual and heavenly powers, next the visible and sensible universe, and next man with his spiritual and morally responsive nature. All things, therefore, which he made, share in His goodness in respect to their existence. For He Himself is existence to all, since all things that are, are in Him (Col 1:17), not only because it was He that brought them out of nothing into being, but because His power preserves and maintains all that He made, especially the living creatures. For both because they exist and because they enjoy life, they share in His goodness. But in truth those of them that have reason have a still greater share in life, both because of what has been already said and also because of the very reason which they possess. Creatures endowed with reason are somehow more nearly akin to Him, even though He is incomparably higher than they.
 
"However, man being endowed with reason and free will, received the power of continuous union with God through his own choice, if indeed he would remain in goodness, that is in obedience to his Maker. Since, however, he transgressed the command of his Creator and became liable to death and corruption, the Creator and Maker of our race, because of His compassion, took on our likeness, becoming man in all things but without sin, and was united to our nature (Heb 2:17). For since He bestowed on us His own image and His own spirit and we did not keep them safe, He took Himself a share in our poor and weak nature, in order that He might cleanse us and make us incorruptible, and establish us once more as partakers of His divinity.
 
"For it was fitting that not only Christ, the first-fruits of our nature, should partake in the higher good but that a second birth should take place and that the nourishment should be new and suitable to the birth and thus the measure of perfection be attained. Through Christ's birth, that is, His incarnation, and baptism and passion and resurrection, He delivered our nature from the sin of our first parent and death and corruption, and became the first-fruits of the resurrection, and made Himself the way and image and pattern, in order that we, too, following in His footsteps, may become by adoption what He is Himself by nature, sons and heirs of God and joint heirs with Him (Rm 8:17). He gave us therefore, as I said, a second birth in order that, just as we who are born of Adam are in his image and are the heirs of the curse and corruption, so also being born of Him we may be in His likeness and heirs of His incorruption and blessing and glory."

 John of Damascus, Concerning the Orthodox Faith, 4.13
Romans 8:14-24

All who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs- heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved.(ESV)
Prayer
Dear Christ, You gave Yourself to us that we, through the second birth, might be freed from our corruption and the curse of sin, and so be born of You to bear Your likeness and be an heir of Your blessings and glory. Amen.
 
For Celsa Gallegos, that the Lord Jesus would grant healing
 
For President Matthew Harrison of the LCMS, that the Lord Jesus would sustain him in his office
 
For those who do not know the peace of God that surpasses human understanding, that they might have a preacher who will tell them that their war with God has long been over for Christ's sake
Art: JANSSENS, Jan  The Annunciation (17th c.)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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