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“Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a severe hailstorm.” Rev 11:19
“A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head.2 She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth.” Rev 12:1
This is the eve of one of the High feasts of the Western Church, the Immaculate Conception – First what it ISNT – Alot of people think this has to do with Jesus… Only indirectly. Rather, it has to do with the Mother of God, the Theo Tokos… Mary. It is a Dogma of the Western Church (and really…we only have 2 of them…) That Mary, in order to be a fitting vessel, or Ark of the new Covenant… needed to be pure from the start.
I really wanted to talk about this, especially in light of a certain president and his Zionistic tendencies as of late. There is a real push among the Evangelicals, to restore the temple… and as such, they are very pro israeli state. This in itself isnt a bad thing. We all have a right to live peacefully with one another. However, the current state of Israel, did not start peaceful. The motivation here though, is to support Israel because of a failed, flawed understanding of the book I took both text from. I deliberately pulled the end of chapter 11, as it leads up to Chapter 12, which is ALWAYS the reading for tomorrow.
The original Ark, was made with specifics – In Exodus we can read
37 Next Bezalel made the Ark of acacia wood—a sacred chest 45 inches long, 27 inches wide, and 27 inches high.[a] 2 He overlaid it inside and outside with pure gold, and he ran a molding of gold all around it. 3 He cast four gold rings and attached them to its four feet, two rings on each side. 4 Then he made poles from acacia wood and overlaid them with gold. 5 He inserted the poles into the rings at the sides of the Ark to carry it.
6 Then he made the Ark’s cover—the place of atonement—from pure gold. It was 45 inches long and 27 inches wide.[b] 7 He made two cherubim from hammered gold and placed them on the two ends of the atonement cover. 8 He molded the cherubim on each end of the atonement cover, making it all of one piece of gold. 9 The cherubim faced each other and looked down on the atonement cover. With their wings spread above it, they protected it.”
God gave a specific design to Moses, who Bezalel took and made the Ark. Anything else would not have been worthy. Inside the Ark, was held the Stone Tablets… The Manna from the desert, and the Rod of Aaron…the first High Priest of Israel. The Ark itself was so Holy..that no one could touch it…and the High Priest would only dare approach it once per year, on Yom Kippur, the day of Atonement. It was a container of the Divine, and there was nothing like it. Later, Solomon would construct his Temple, to house it.
This was the Ark of the Old Covenant.. the Promise of God to be with his people… based on specifics they were to Carry out. But lets face it… people…can be rather lacking. Dare I say..people suck. No matter how many boundaries you give them.. they bulldoze right through..and you have to keep making rules..
This is exactly what happened with Israel. Eventually there were over 600 Mitzvahs.. to govern life… noting everything from diet to clothing.
IN short… The Old Covenant failed on the part of Man…because man is imperfect.
Enter the New Covenant. The Word Made Flesh. God would become man…so that man could return to God.
Mary, carrying the Word made Flesh, became the new Ark of the Covenant, the New Covenant… one that no longer would rely on legalism..but on relationship. Just like the old Ark.. the New Ark also had specifics of design. From the moment of her conception, Mary was protected from Sin…and remained sinless her entire life. This is why we call her the “Immaculate Conception”, She didnt carry the ancestral sin, that each and everyone of us carry.
We know what happens after Christmas. Jesus of Nazareth would walk the earth.. Die (and literally be held by his mother after the Cross)..and Rise again. Very often, in the gospel, He Refers to himself as the Temple…. and Rightly so. This is also why at his death…the veil…which separated the God Seat from humanity …was torn from Top to bottom. No longer were we separate… but we were now atoned for in a way that we could never do on our own.
No more Temple. The Temple was and is with man. The temple IS Jesus.. who is the Word…Thus, Mary having literally carried the Word made Flesh… is an Ark of the New Covenant. This is what the feast is about.
Tying this in with current events… this doctrine is needed more then ever.. because by understanding how very special Mary IS, we understand WHO Jesus Christ is.
The Old Temple, was a place specifically designed so that the sacrifice of Atonement (an imperfect sacrifice…) could be offered..so by the blood of a lamb..man’s many sins could be atoned for. Jesus became the new lamb..as such..there was no longer a need for Temple. HE WAS the Temple. He IS the Sacrifice. A pure Victim, a Spotless victim, a Worth Oblation.
Its a bit disturbing then… that people are SO very ignorant of Scripture… to the point that they very heretically, discredit scripture and the Word. If we need a Temple again…then Calvary means NOTHING… and that is heretical thinking of the highest level..
This same ignorance, lends itself to the arrogance that man has any power whatsoever, to bring about God’s plan… that being the Apocalypse, the reordering and perfection of the world. Some of you (all 5 who read my blog), probably consider me crazy for suggesting that the President is engaged in this, but consider for a moment… the people who backed him, and he confides in.
This move in Israel.. is not just a political move. I fear it has deeper intent then what is on the surface. Now, more then ever… Knowing the Immaculate Conception.. and what she brings, will help bring the world the clarity it needs..and God Willing, spares us the bloodshed that will happen over a very incomplete understanding the eschatology of current events.
Tomorrow…think about the immensity of God…and how different that is from your own place in creation, then you will begin to understand WHY we Celebrate the Immaculate conception.
Oh Mary Conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee.
Tonight is the eve of the Celebration of St Nicholas of Myra. He is who we attribute “Santa Claus” to, which is a shortening of his name.
He lived in the 4th Century, and was a member of the 1st Eccumenical council, which would give us the Nicene Creed, which is the single most defining statement of faith that the Christian faith has.
One of the most enduring stories of Nicholas is as a Bishop, he would leave fruit and Gold on the door steps of the poor. This is where we get the traditions of both on St Nicholas day, leaving presents in our children’s shoes, and later, the tradition of Santa Claus (from the German for St Nicholas, “SinterKlaus”) bringing presents each Christmas.
A lesser known, and more important tale of St Nick, has to do with the Council of Nicea. IN 325 Ad, Christianity , only recently allowed to be practiced openly, was at a Crossroads. There was great debate on the Nature of Christ. Arius, a bishop of Alexandria, who held that while Christ was the Son of God.. he was Unique from the Father…and thus.. lesser then God.
This was contrary to the concept held by the church (and Scripture), which held that the Father Son and Spirit were all equal parts of the God head, the Trinity. Anyhow, during the debate… St Nicholas got so angry at Arius that he reached over and struck him. He would be jailed for a period of a month, only to be exhonerated when the council ruled against the Arian Heresy.
Arius would be deposed, and the Nicene Creed was professed by all for the very first time. In many ways…we owe our Church as it is in both East and West to Nicholas. If only today’s bishops had his courage.
St Nicholas is a Patron of Eastern Christians, Russia, Children. St Nicholas of Myra, pray for us (and leave me some good stuff in my shoes)