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#IntheFlesh is the reflection for December 20, 2015.  Why would someone build a pool and not put water in it? What does that pool have to do with Jesus and the flesh? What does Mary have to do with anything. Listen here in this reflection:  Download it into your phone.   #MSAWordfortheDay #MySpiritualAdvisor #Sermon #Homily #Mary #ReversetheCurse #Salvation #Tertullian #Osteen #VictoriaOsteen #MSAWordfortheDay #MySpiritualAdvisor

For listener supported My Spiritual Advisor, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday,   12/20/2015 . The 4th Sunday of Advent.

Please pause this audio and read Luke 1:39-45.

         A man hired the pool company to build a pool in his back yard. In the early spring, after the permafrost had gone away, the construction company came and dug the hole. They ran the necessary pipes and lines for the draining and filling of the pool. They placed the fiberglass liner in the ground, connected the lines to the filtration system, and filled in the gaps on the sides. They laid concrete and built a cabana to house the filtration system. After things had set, they started to fill the pool with water. That is when the fireworks began.

         The owner of the home came running out and yelled, “Stop! Stop! Stop! No! No! No! I don’t want any water in it! I just want a pool!” As ridiculous as it sounds, this is the same situation we find ourselves in the way that we act about Jesus being born of Mary today.

         “The flesh is the hinge of salvation,” said the Church Father Tertullian. It was something that blew me away when Dr. Geoffrey Wainwright of Duke’s Divinity School laid that on us one day. This statement has amazing implications for us. If Jesus is not human, but is just God dressed up as a human, then he really didn’t live our life. If he didn’t live our life, then he would not know what it meant to be tempted in the flesh, tempted to do things in the flesh. If he wasn’t tempted to do things in the flesh, then he could not resist the same kind of sin we are tempted to do. If he is not tempted to do the same kind of sin we are tempted to do, then our sins were not part of the saving act that we will celebrate on Good Friday. If he is not redeeming the sins we experience on Good Friday, then we are not saved. The flesh is the hinge of salvation.

         Another point about the flesh being the hinge of salvation is this: the flesh is part of creation. Human flesh was created out of the dust of the earth, Genesis tells us. If Jesus is not connected to the flesh, then all of creation does not get restored in the Resurrection of the Dead. There will be no New Heaven and no New Earth, as the Book of Revelation says. We will not be with God in the end if Jesus Christ does not come in the flesh. Addtionally, If there is no human flesh, there is no receptacle and place for the spirit God breathed into us to reside. There is no connection between God and us through the person Jesus without flesh.

         The angel Gabriel just visited Mary in the passage just before this one. He told Mary to name her son Jesus. The name “Jesus” means “God saves”.  If God doesn’t come born our birth, walk our walk, talk our talk, live our life, die our death, then we will not be raised up to eternal life with him. There is a logic to this. This is not magic. Jesus Christ must be both fully God and fully man for us to be united with him in Salvation to be with God forever and ever.

         So, when Victoria Osteen, in a video I have posted at MySpiritualAdvisor.com, says that Jesus was always a man and God put his spirit in him, it means that we are not really saved unless we are as good as a man as Jesus and God then rewards us by putting his spirit in us. Wrong! The fact of the matter is that Jesus is the Word made flesh and the Word is God (See John 1). He is so because the flesh is the hinge of salvation. Jesus being without the flesh is like a pool without water. A pool’s purpose is for swimming. Jesus’ purpose is for the redemption of the spirit and the flesh.

         Where does the Son take on that flesh? He takes on that flesh in the womb. That womb is Mary’s womb. The importance of Mary for salvation should not be underestimated. Mary provides the flesh which is redeemed. It is Mary who is called the “Mother of my Lord” by Elizabeth in Luke 1:43. Mary is the one who had the incredible happen: an angel visited her and she believed him. Elizabeth, again, says, “blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord,” in Luke 1:45.

         Finally, this Fourth Sunday of Advent, we Christians can turn ourselves toward the message of the baby to be born in the manger. All during Advent, we have been hearing from John the Baptist and hearing messages about repentance and preparation for the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, I have talked about how we are to prepare for the Second Coming and that our bodies would be reunited with our souls at the Second Coming. That is, if we do what Mary has done.

         In simple holiness, accepting the reality that there is a God who cares about us, Mary receives an angel who gives her a profound message:

“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David….the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God”….Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”

         Where Eve decided that the word given to her by God was wrong about the Tree of Life, Mary reverses the curse of humanity by accepting God’s wild and amazing message from Gabriel. Where Adam and Eve gave birth to Cain who murdered Abel because he was pleasing to the Lord, Mary gives birth to a child who is murdered by us because he is the Lord. Where Adam and Eve sewed death through their one disobedience, Mary sews life through the Child Jesus who comes from her womb.

         Mary is an example for us in faith. It is her “Yes” that undoes Eve’s “No.” So, if anyone wants to say that through a woman we have disobedience, they forget Mary. Through a woman we also have restoration and the giving of eternal life. You and I can be just like her. We can fill our pools with the waters of baptismal faith and be refreshed. We can fill our pools with the waters of trust that turn into a life that has the bouquet of taste filled wine to the Lord.

         Have you ever sat and had a kind and generous notion, something that just popped into your head and would not let you be? Have you ever been in the midst of prayer and you felt the urge to make a friend of a homeless person, feed a family down the street that you know has fallen on hard times, change the policies in your workplace to be more generous, forgive a family member who has done you wrong, or do something that seemed impossible for you to do before you entered the time of prayer? If so, that is your Gabriel and this is your Mary moment. What do You say?

         Do you say, “Build me a pool, but don’t fill it with water?” Do you say, “I am a Christian, but I don’t have to trust that this good thing to do is a prompting from God”? What good are spiritual beliefs that are not lived out in the flesh? It is impossible for the flesh to have any purpose, to be called “very good” (as the Lord did at creation), if we are not rejoicing in God, trusting in his messages and doing whatever he calls us to do.

         So, Mary is important because she gave flesh to the Word who redeemed the world; the flesh which is the hinge of salvation. Mary is important because she said, “yes;” Yes to an amazing mission. Imagine the amazing things we can do in, with, and for Jesus if we did the same. Amen.

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