Posted on Sun, Jan 4, 2015
January 4, 2015
Second Sunday in Christmas
Gospel Text: John 1:1–18 “Our True Selves”
The Word Became Flesh
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. 15 (John testified to him and cried out, ‘This was he of whom I said, “He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.” ’) 16 From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.
Today’s text is probably the most profoundly important text in the Bible that describes what God was up to in sending to us a Savior. John is trying to tell us something that we can only imagine, but never comprehend; we can try to explain it, but we don’t have the words or understanding to even describe the context of God; the little that we can do is to use the limited dimensions of our language and understanding, and let ourselves EXPERIENCE the ESSENCE of God which is found in LOVE and MERCY. And what John and Luke are trying to tell us is that the Promise or Covenant of LOVE and MERCY came to us in the chosen one, Jesus the Christ. After that all we can do is, through faith, receive that LOVE and MERCY, then share this same LOVE and MERCY, and then allow that Light that was from the beginning, begin to shine through our words, thoughts and actions.
But here is one point that I really want us to think about. Our very essence is rooted in the very purpose of God’s redemptive plan in Jesus Christ. Check out verses 3 thru 5 again.
3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
There is a part of us, maybe deep down and hard to find or feel, or as accessible as a cookie sitting on a table just waiting to be eaten, that has “come into being through God,” and this is what we call LIFE.
It is in acknowledging that we are spiritual beings, as well as being a social, physical, emotional being with God being a part of every experience we have.
John, of course, is describing Jesus as the Word made Flesh, the Light and Life of the world, but he is also taking us back to the essence of the Creation Story. God is love, therefore God needed to Create in order to have a ‘beloved,’ and that ‘beloved’ is all of Creation and is blessed with the identity of being loved by this amazing God. Just in your existence, you are considered a beloved child of God.
This means that all that we can see, feel, hear or touch, came into being through God, through Jesus. Can you see how this changes the way we look at the world around us, the people around us, the oceans that amaze us and the cosmos which causes us to truly wonder?
On New Years Eve, I was invited by Island Divers Hawaii in Hawaii Kai to join them for their New Years Eve night dive on some of the wrecks in front of Waikiki. As Tom and I had already put the services together early, my mind was already in full sermon preparation mode… even with all the activities going on around me, there was always the text and the search for a relavent message on my mind… but nothing was coming to my mind, not one idea or metaphor for today’s message had really come to mind. I think it is because the theological concepts that John has so beautifully compressed into these short verses was just overwhelming to me. Put your theological thinking caps on and try to think of a way you would explain verse 1, to a group of people thinking from a pre-school to professors teaching students earning their PhD’s?
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
That was the problem; I was focusing on the phrase that requires a lifetime of faith experience in order to understand enough to begin to explain it.
Believe it or not, but as we boarded the boat and went through the ritual of going through safety procedures, rigging our scuba equipment, checking lights one more time, and then hitting the blackness of the water … I was thinking about today’s message! With everybody reminding to each other in book, song, poem or Facebook, “YOU MUST LIVE IN THE NOW” I still could NOT allow my mind to let go of Sunday morning, and just enjoy the beauty of the moment, the people, and the occasion. I wish I could be one of those pastors who can just shut things out in order enjoy the moment… but I can’t. I hit the water thinking to myself, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,” now check your buoyancy, clear your mask and go down… then I would immediately go back to thinking, “Now what can I say about this text that would comfort, inspire, and be relevant to the people of Calvary by the Sea? … Oh, better add air to my buoyancy compensator, I am going down too fast.”
But then, as I was physically relaxed and enjoying the beauty of our sea life, in the beam of light from my flashlight I saw hundreds of tiny spots. If you look at my posting on Facebook you can clearly see thousands of tiny spots reflecting the light to my flashlight. I stopped and carefully looked at the critters being illuminated in the beam. On a daylight dive, you wouldn't see so many, but in this small beam of light there thousands of tiny fish, jellyfish, who knows how many forms of plants, embryonic or larval mobile corals, crustaceans or whatever you can imagine? Thousands of forms of life around me and with looking at each one, and right on cue, my mind remembered today’s Gospel text, 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life… I was stopped in my bubbles! As this thought hit me, a tiny delicate jellyfish entered my beam… it was full of color, purple, yellow, blues and red smaller than the end of my pinky. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life… This little creature was as beautiful as the most beautiful painting by Monet, yet more fragile than a spider web… but it was full of life!
And at that moment, my mind realized the obvious, there at about 90 feet underwater out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, I was surrounded by more than just water and water creatures, I WAS SURROUNDED BY GOD, I WAS SURROUNDED BY CREATURES THAT WERE ALIVE BECAUSE WITHOUT GOD, NOT ONE THING CAN COME INTO BEING… And each one in all of their amazing shapes and sizes, at that time in the cosmos, was perfectly made for their purpose of ‘being alive according to the artistry of God.’
That piece of God, which inhabits each and every living thing, is Christ within us! Our baptismal promise proclaims to us that from now on, we are children of God, and that piece of God that lives within us guides us, comforts us, strengthens us in the Holy Spirit. “14 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.”
The Word of All Salvation, Hope, Mercy, Truth, Justice and Love is within us giving us wisdom; ahead of us, leading us to service; above us CAUSING us to sing praises and worship; below us holding us up and giving us strength when we are afraid.
Our lives in God’s presence then become a faith journey acknowledging Immanuel, God with Us, praying with, or for, an open mind to see Jesus alive and walking with us each and everyday. We must go to quiet places to pray and listen to voice of God speaking to our hearts. We must gather around the Cross of Christ as a Faith Community and worship the God of all Creation and Redemption. We must gather around the table and eat of this bread and drink of this wine, to know that God has given us true life though forgiveness and God’s presence. This is the real you.
Later in his Gospel, John writes in 16:33, “I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!”
God’s presence is all around us, as delicate and beautiful as a tiny jellyfish, yet mightier than the sting of death.
For us to be fully human is to be in communion with the reality that “All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life…”
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