New Beginning: Word (Part 6)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.
These are the first words we read from the Gospel of John.
And they are among my favorite — even though they represent such confusion for so many people.
But these words are nothing short of a revelation in so many different ways.
And revelations sometimes are hard to fathom at first.
You see, Jesus is the Word that John is speaking about.
Why the Word? Did you ever wonder that?
Why not just say “In the beginning was Jesus, and Jesus was with God and Jesus was God?”
That might clear up things a little bit.
By the time the Gospel of John is written — somewhere most likely between 90 and 110 CE, which is at least 50 years after Christ’s death — people had heard about or even seen or known Jesus.
There was some familiarity. John didn’t necessarily have to tell the world, “There was this man named Jesus…”
What John is doing in that opening verse — and then throughout his entire Gospel — is witnessing to the fact that Jesus was there in the beginning; Jesus was with God during Creation, and Jesus was God.
Those opening words represent the story of Creation in Genesis.
But, still, why is Jesus The Word?
Well, think about the word Word. What does a word do?
It communicates something.
It is a text that makes something known.
It serves as a witness.
In other words, it reveals.
While some people may have known who Jesus Christ was, we get an even clearer picture by putting action to his name — Word.
What The Word does is reveal.
In a sense, then, Jesus reveals God.
And the significance of this most-holy day — Christmas Day — is that the Word became Flesh.
The revelation of God became a human being. A baby.
To witness to the true glory of God’s nature.
The Word in the world, revealed to the world.
And so John’s message to the world in his Gospel is that of a witness: To say “I know Him. I hold onto this incarnation of God, who came to us as a little baby born in a lowly manger. And He came to save us from the sins of the world.”
The Word was incarnated as flesh, as a human being to give us a message.
The Word is the message.
That is what we celebrate today.
But, unfortunately, not everyone celebrates this today, do they?
We know that around the world this very morning, there are people who never even heard the words “Jesus Christ,” let alone the Gospel of John.
And we also know that there are people all around the world who believe in different Gods, different religions, and don’t know the Gospel, or they reject it because of their own beliefs.
We know that there are people all around the world and living right next door to us who refuse the Gospel.
And we know so many people who claim to know the Gospel, to know Jesus and even call themselves Christians who put more faith in the gluttonous consumerism of Christmas, teaching their kids more about Santa than of Jesus Christ.
Like I said, not everyone celebrates this message today, do they?
The Word is about witness
Twelve people were killed and 48 injured in a terrorism attack at a Christmas market in Milan last week.
Last week, a baby froze to death in a car left outside by his parent.
A man and a woman overdosed on drugs and died, and their infant died from starvation and dehydration.
“What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World,” to quote Barack Obama after the December 17, 2012, Sandy Hook shootings.
We know the terrible part.
And we’re here to know the beautiful part, too.
There is a tension between the terrible and the beautiful.
See, John writes about that tension when he says in Verse 5, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”
The tension already was established between light and dark. It’s nothing new.
But what did darkness bring? Nothing. Darkness is void. Darkness is nothing.
What did light bring? Everything. Light brings life. Light reveals!
So if dark brings nothing and light brings life, what tension is there, really?
Or, to say it another way, which opposite has more pull?
I can read you dark headlines from around the world on this very day all day.
But I can tell you many more — and many more significant — stories about the light.
Because not every non-Christian is a terrorist, and neither is every Muslim.
Today, in homes throughout the Middle East parents are holding their children with love, affection and hope.
And not every parent who finds themselves in a world of hurt and pain is abandoning their babies for a quick escape from drugs or something else.
No, most people in the world today — crave peace, desire love, seek light.
They seek that light that in the Book of Genesis becomes present in creation as a sign or a symbol of sustaining creation itself.
And they, and we, are always searching for the light.
For that word that transforms us.
For that word that helps us.
For that word that answers our desperate call.
The Word became flesh.
Jesus was the human witness of the divine God.
John was the apostolic witness of Jesus.
And if we are the body of Christ — and we are — then manifest within us is that same word!
Within us is the same witness!
I am one person who will tell the Christmas Story unabashedly.
The supernatural God came to this broken world and became incarnate as a baby, Jesus Christ, to being witness, to bring light, to bring the word to you and to everyone who will listen.
Are you someone who will share the Christmas Story?
Because you are the witness to the world.
God gave birth to the Word in flesh for the world to hear.
What words do your hearts birth for the world to hear?
What words can you give birth to for the world to hear?!
Never, ever stop being a witness to the Word.
John the Baptist came to witness to the world before and while Jesus was in the world.
The apostle John came to witness to the world while and after Jesus was in the world.
You are here today to witness to the world that Jesus is in the world.
What words will you use to incarnate the words of life?
Quaker elder and activist Parker Palmer writes:
“For those of us who celebrate Christmas, the best gift we can give others — whatever their faith or philosophy may be — is a simple question asked with heartfelt intent: What good words wait to be born in us, and how can we love one another in ways that midwife their incarnation?”
Simply put, this is the challenge we have today.
And we can — and should — look at it as such a wonderful opportunity.
Is there darkness in the world today, on this very moment? I’m certain of it.
But, my friends, there is so much more light.
This is why the light came into the world.
This is why the light is carried within you in what we know as the Holy Spirit.
The Christmas Story is that the Light came into the world for this very reason.
For peace. For light. For love. For eternity.
Today, as bearers of the Word, you have the opportunity and honor to change the world with the words that are birthed in you.
And guess what? It’s not just what you, a mere human can do; no, you have the full power of the Holy Spirit within you to be that witness.
How wonderful a gift!
That you can bring light to darkness.
That you can speak life into being.
What a wonderful gift.