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‘Theotokos’ just dropped into my mind, uninvited

August 16, 2014

Friday was the feast of Mary, Jesus’ mother. Which made me think, why does the mention of Mary make so many protestants uneasy? Should it make me uneasy too? I started to ponder these things in my heart and the word ‘theotokos’ just dropped into my mind, uninvited. I don’t know about you but theotokos is not the sort of word that I use every day. I’ve never used it in casual conversation. I can just imagine the strange looks I’d get if I used it in the pub or petrol station. I even think I’d get a few puzzled looks if I used it in Church.

Theotokos came into my mind for one obvious reason – Mary is theotokos. Mary is theotokos which is Greek for ‘God bearer’, or as in the Hail Mary prayer, ‘mother of God’. Many non-Catholic Christians find this phrase difficult but we need to get used to it. It’s almost a test of how Catholic you are: how comfortable do you feel about saying ‘Mary mother of God’?

Many non-Catholic Christians find this phrase difficult but we need to get used to it. Either that or stop calling Jesus ‘God’. Either Mary carried and gave birth to Jesus, God incarnate, or she did not – we can’t have it both ways! So let’s get used to saying ‘Mary mother of God’.

I for one am happy to call Mary any of these names because by doing this I shout out that God became Incarnate – God become flesh (and blood) like me, to show me and everyone what God would be like as a human.

Mary is special in so many ways but she is uniquely special for being the means by which God chose to become part of his own creation. The concept alone is mind-blowing – How can God who is timeless and creator of all things enter time and become a tiny part of all that he had made? I don’t know how, I just know that he did it.

By entering into creation God in Jesus made all of creation holy, or at least started that process. A small chain reaction was started in 1st Century Palestine that is still spreading out in every direction through time and space. God has acted to restore and make right his creation. Thinking of Gaza, Syria and Iraq and so many other places of pain and horror – Thinking of these places there is a real need for creation to be put right so it is good to know that this process has already started.

In a small way the incarnation started earlier (or spread back in time from the incarnation of Jesus – mind blowing again!). Each time an Old Testament prophet received a prophesy or worked a miracle through God’s Spirit, God had become flesh in this world. These isolated events pre-shadowed what was to happen later when Jesus would be born as God and human, God’s own son. Now that Jesus has returned to the Father the incarnation has carried on – God now becomes incarnate through the work of the Holy Spirit.

That is a scary thought. I have the Holy Spirit in me, so God is incarnate in me too. Through the Spirit living in me, in a tiny, secondary way Christ (God and human) is living in me – in and through my flesh and blood. This is the wonder of what all Christians are. We are not just followers of Jesus Christ – we, through the Spirit, are Christ incarnate today.

A scary thought but before I get too big headed about it, I need to remember that it is through the Spirit alone that this is possible. God only becomes incarnate in me when I let go and let the Spirit work in me, only then. Like Mary I need to say ‘Yes’ to God first – then anything is possible.

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