As Straw From the Fire (and a brief update)

 

It’s been far too long since my last update. I’ve been fairly busy since the holidays with work and school. I’m teaching twice a week now at my church, Tuesday morning and Thursday evenings, for our in house Bible school program. It functions as a sort of catechesis/discipleship group and I have a good group of students. The highlight of the past few months was my trip to Princeton to attend the Florovsky Symposium on the Patristic Doctrine of Scripture. There were some amazing lectures and I came away with much to think about in regards to how I read and interpret Scripture. I’ll be graduating from seminary in June with my M.Div and have begun to seriously contemplate my post graduate school plans. I’d appreciate any prayers you may feel inclined to offer. Ok! Back to St. Athanasius and On the Incarnation. (by way of reminder I’m reading and quoting from the V. Rev. Dr. John Behr’s translation published by St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press).

In chapter six, St. Athanasius concluded that it is right for God to not allow human beings to be carried away by corruption because this would not be worthy of his goodness if he did not do so. It is with this in mind that we move to chapter seven. He asks what was God to do in response to human sin? Should he demand repentance? St. Athanasius then notes that repentance can only halt sin, it does not recall human beings from the consequences of the fall. In order to answer this question he writes that since God the Word (Jesus) created the world, then the Word alone is able to recreate the universe, suffer, and intercede for humanity before the Father. He does this in order to make what has been corrupted into something incorruptible. This also saves the consistency of the goodness of God in relation to his creation.

In chapter eight St. Athanasius moves to The Word’s incarnation. Rather than try to summarize, I’ll post a piece of what he says because he says it beautifully, and more completely than, I can.

“For seeing the rational race perishing, and death reigning over them through corruption… and seeing the excessive wickedness of human beings… and seeing the liability of all human beings to death – having mercy upon our race… and condescending to our corruption, and not enduring the dominion of death… he takes for himself a body not foreign to our own.”

He comments on how the Word, though being the powerful creator of the universe, took on human flesh through the womb of Mary. He does this so that he can, in his love, offer himself in his incorruptible flesh on behalf of all humanity to the Father so that the law of corruption in all humanity can be undone. And the grace of the resurrection “banishes death from them (humanity) as straw from the fire.”

I like that last quote, namely that God the Word banishes death from us as “straw from the fire.” Fire burns through straw quite quickly and this makes a powerful image about how the work of Christ should burn through us removing all impurities as we turn our hearts towards God. We can only do this because God the Word condescended to humanity first out of his goodness and love for human beings. Because of this we can be healed and freed from our bondage to sin and death. Quite a profound thought and one worth meditating on this week.

(not sure if the fire picture is a stock photo. Found it at geringcitizen.com)