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“PINCH YOURSELF!” “PINCH YOURSELF!”

If you judge people, you have to love them!
If you judge people, you have to love them!
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“PINCH YOURSELF!”

Posted on Sun, Jan 5, 2014

John 1:1–18

January 5, 2014

2nd Sunday in Christmas

Gospel Text: John 1:1–18 – “PINCH YOURSELF!”

 

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.

 

 

I know everyone’s life is busy enough, but put yourself in John the Evangelist’s shoes for just a moment. If you had to proclaim a concise message about God’s plan to send God’s Son, our Redeemer and Messiah, that covered Jesus’ origins, purpose, even the negative reaction by the ones He was sent to redeem and the ultimate promise He fulfilled, what would you write? This is the issue that the writer of John had for his audience in today’s Gospel text. Oh, and not only did it have to be concise, it had to use words and metaphors Greek-speaking people AND Hebrew-speaking people could understand and relate to… NO PICTURES! Poor John. But that’s what he did with our Gospel Text for today. Thank you John!

 

It is a text written in big sweeping strokes covering from the beginning of time and beyond the Omega future itself.

 

First of all, there is the concept of God… John is talking about Jesus, the Truth and the Light, but since God already is, was and will always be… and the concept of “God” is way beyond our understanding or comprehension, John just let’s God and the being of God, sit as is… He acknowledges that God already exists and has no need to prove this Truth to a doubting populace, John is all about describing the Word/Light/Truth/ and this would be Jesus… therefore his writing is called a GOSPEL. It’s as if God just writes us off in attempting to explain God in a way we could comprehend. John’s purpose was to help us, those living on this planet, IN this WORLD, understand what God was doing FOR US through this One called the Word, our Savior.

 

In sending Jesus, even in a small package like a baby, the affect and effect on the world will be huge! The Word was in the beginning! Q: When did this take place, the Word becoming Flesh and all? A: Scientists have done an amazing job in giving us some good numbers to work with, and they help us get our minds around how BIG God’s plan was, but John only can say, “The beginning.”

 

And the Word was Life! This earth is teaming with life even though we humans seem to be hell bent on destroying as much as we can before we can destroy ourselves. John says, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” What is this ‘darkness’ Jesus was sent to ‘illuminate?’ Maybe we could learn something about this ‘darkness’ if we humbly look at the actions of our so-called civilized or industrial nations throughout history. As our climate and entire ecosystems have gone out of balance due to human activity and our arrogance in trying to deny this fact, and as so many marine creatures confuse floating plastics that they die of starvation with bellies filled with plastics, and as the pacific ocean is now being poisoned with uncontrollable nuclear waste from just one tragic nuclear accident and entire food change and is now in danger, and as we look at the countless wars humans have waged against humans throughout the years (the 100 anniversary of “The War to End All Wars,” WW1 will be ‘celebrated/remembered’ this year), can we honestly say that humans beings have been living in PONO, in balance with each other and the bountiful and beautiful life that God so richly and abundantly has given to us out of pure love? This is just one of many forms of “Darkness” John is referring too. There is also the blindness to the needs of the poor and powerless, or those who deal with mental anguish and mental disorders that are often shunned or blamed for their illness, then there are those who are sick and dying with no means to care for themselves or receive proper medical care, even if it is a simple as a providing clean water, basic immunizations like a measles or polio shot, healthy food or even shoes.

 

Go ahead, take a second and think about what form of Darkness you think John is talking about, then think about your own ‘Darkness.’ We all have moments, or seemingly endless times of ‘Darkness’ in our life.

 

But don’t dwell on these forms of Darkness, this Word that was sent into OUR/Your world, is able to overcome ALL Darkness. John says, 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.”

 

And for me there is this one little phrase: 16 From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. This is the same grace that Jesus said to Paul was “sufficient for you” in 2 Corinthians 12:9.

 

“GRACE UPON GRACE?” As many of you know, this is the first New Year Celebration I was looking forward to, not with all the noisemakers, fireworks, and champagne. I just was looking for any symbol of a new start. So many of us are looking for a new start in so many ways; but as I look back on the difficult times since April 2012, I can see that God never left my side, and in many ways, because of tragedy and pain, my eyes were more open to the simple beauty of life around me. Colors were deeper, classical music now sometimes makes me cry, the contrasts between the blue morning sky and the green mountains around my home deserved more time to observe and ponder, my listening skills were greatly heightened and my passion for life and caring for people and speaking up about injustices has deeply intensified. Other changes snuck into my life and behavior, meaningless music and TV was turned off sooner, cynicism and destructive language cut more deeply and was to be avoided at all cost. I also found myself more in need of forgiveness and times of quiet prayer and solitude.

 

During Christmas, there was an unexpected tragedy I was called to assist with; I spent a great deal of time with a couple that lost their only son to a drug overdose. As we spoke together about the pain in order to allow the healing process begin, the father told me that since the time of his sons death, the loss of his son has been unexpectedly painful but the colors of the flowers were deeper, the feel of the wind and fresh air was now much more important to him and now he kept his windows open all the time, the sounds of the birds became meaningful, comforting and almost like music. It was very hard for him to say these things.  

 

The tragedy helped him understand there was a great deal of darkness in his life before the tragedy, but that darkness seemed almost “self-inflicted” with too much work, distractions and the distractions of maintaining his business. After his son’s death, THROUGH HIS PAIN, his eyes seemed to be opened to the reality and possibilities of life. His approach to his job, his future plans and life in general, were greatly changed… and even though he was in great pain, the changes were for the better.

 

For my Saturday devotions, I have a feeling many of us read the same passage and verses from “Jesus Calling” at the end of the lesson, there was a text from Psalm 138:7-10

 

Psalm 138:7-10

7 Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? 
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, 10 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast.

 

John says, “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.

 

Guess what? You have “Come into being through Him.” You are the result of that Promise becoming Flesh. Go ahead pinch yourself, or give yourself a nice solid rub, you are flesh, Jesus felt much like you, and because of His birth, death and resurrection, you are redeemed. The cross and the tomb are empty, and the Promise of God loving and merciful presence will never leave you from now on and forevermore.  Amen

 

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