In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. These words have echoed through the naves of our churches for two millennia now. And they still carry as much mystery and depth as always.
This passage from the beginning of John’s gospel also stands as a prologue to the whole book. Karl Barth used to teach a class on the Gospel of John and the entire semester was spent focusing on the first 20 verses or so. That is because so much of the Gospel is simply an expansion on this initial philosophical stance.
The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us – full of grace and truth.
What do these words say to our church today – churches who are struggling to share the gospel? John is anything but simple, and yet, the images are often rooted in simplicity. The Word was with God. Logic, rational, understanding: these things are with God.
And the Word became flesh…Jesus, right? Seems easy so far. In Jesus is all that is logic and understanding. OK, not so simple. Later John takes up these concepts of grace and truth and expands them into light and sharing the light.
Down South the last couple weeks folks have been finding their way back to church after missing church for a couple weeks. Up North many are just starting to miss church. Over the years I have heard laments about winter and missing church. My favorite is still a high school senior lamenting when we had to cancel Christmas eve service with that horrid ice storm from a few years ago, with the choice words: “I didn’t know the little baby Jesus could arrive if First Pres’ choir didn’t sing him in!”
And yet the light comes. Nothing could stop Christmas from arriving, because it was already in our hearts. Christ is all around us, and God’s Word permeates every nook and cranny of this world.
I hope you have discovered the wonderfully strange book of John’s gospels, which speaks to the complexity, and yet the simplicity of God’s truth revealed to us.