Christmas 1–December 30, 2018
Isaiah 61:10-62:3, Psalm 147 or 147:13-21, Galatians 3:23-25; 4:4-7, John 1:1-18
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
How we see God, how we imagine God, will determine how we understand the meaning and the force of this statement that the Word was God. If our image of God is the sky-god, living in another place, like heaven, we may imagine the Word being like the voice of our high school principal—a word of foreboding and possibly doom, since we really did smoke in the restroom.
I think many who were raised in a church in this country, excepting maybe the Quakers, have a default setting of God as the sky-god, out there somewhere, keeping a list and checking it twice, and his Word then is judgment and condemnation.
But if our image of God is more Spirit-flowing through us than man-in-the-sky above us, more verb than noun, more process than object, connecting all things together in a luminous web of relational wholeness, then God as Word comes to us, not just from the outside, but also from the inside, welling up like an every flowing stream.
Therefore, this inside word is received not as a foreign Word, but like a word we’ve always known but forgotten, that is connected to us in the very depths of our being and purpose.
This flowing Word, spoken out of God’s heart creates us, forms us, and is closer to us than we are to ourselves. This Word is not the outside attack of a principal but the inside direction of a Divine Mother, speaking gently and lovingly. Psalm 139 paints this picture of God:
I invite you to open the red Book of Common Prayer to page 794 and read verses 1-15 with me:
1 LORD, you have searched me out and known me; *
you know my sitting down and my rising up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
2 You trace my journeys and my resting-places *
and are acquainted with all my ways.
3 Indeed, there is not a word on my lips, *
but you, O LORD, know it altogether.
4 You press upon me behind and before *
and lay your hand upon me.
5 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; *
it is so high that I cannot attain to it.
6 Where can I go then from your Spirit? *
where can I flee from your presence?
7 If I climb up to heaven, you are there; *
if I make the grave my bed, you are there also.
8 If I take the wings of the morning *
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
9 Even there your hand will lead me *
and your right hand hold me fast.
10 If I say, “Surely the darkness will cover me, *
and the light around me turn to night,”
11 Darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day; *
darkness and light to you are both alike.
12 For you yourself created my inmost parts; *
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
13 I will thank you because I am marvelously made; *
your works are wonderful, and I know it well.
14 My body was not hidden from you, *
while I was being made in secret
and woven in the depths of the earth.
15 Your eyes beheld my limbs, yet unfinished in the womb;
all of them were written in your book; *
they were fashioned day by day,
when as yet there was none of them.
Maybe John has this psalm in mind when he writes: “All things came into being through the Word, and without the Word not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.”
The Word who is God addresses us, calling us into being, into life, into witness, into service, into love.
If this is a truthful image of God’s Word, then knowing God’s Word, is crucial for understanding who I am and who I am called to be.
Just as a baby cannot grow into a full human being without a deep, intimate knowledge of her mother, so too we cannot know who we are without a deep intimate knowledge of the Word of God who creates and nurtures us.
But there’s the problem. We have forgotten the Word is our mother, and we have found ourselves being raised by others. We’re like the baby lion raised by wolves. The lion may learn to hunt, but it will never learn to roar and to take its rightful place in the Circle of Life, without intimate contact with other lions.
Therefore, what John tells us next is the heart of the Good News: “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. From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace….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.”
The creative and flowing Word of God becomes a human being named Jesus whose mission is to reclaim us from the wolves, and to retrain us into our true nature as Genesis 1:27 reminds us: “So God created man in God’s own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female God created them.”
That’s why at the Transfiguration the voice in the cloud says, “this is my beloved son, listen to him.” To listen to Jesus is to listen to the voice of One who knows us better than we know ourselves and is alone capable of leading us into our true identity as children of God.
As Jesus says later in John’s gospel: “I am the way, the truth, and the life”—the way back to our motherly Father, or fatherly Mother, who creates us in our mother’s womb and never stops leading us into truth and life.
So God’s “Word made human”, Jesus, call us by name into life, witness, and service. Jesus does this through teachings like the Beatitudes, stories like the Parable of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son, through healings of the sick, and fellowship with prisoners and refugees, through his self-offering on the cross, his resurrection of the human race, and his gift of the Spirit, the loving fountain flowing through us all.
By sticking close to Jesus we experience not only God’s true nature but also our own. And finally, in Christ, we find our true voice for justice and peace, compassion and community, forgiveness and non-violence—the roar of God.