The Reading: John 1: 1-5 14
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him 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 light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
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.
New Revised Standard Version
The Word was first, the Word present to God, God present to the Word. The Word was God, in readiness for God from day one. Everything was created through him; nothing—not one thing!–came into being without him. What came into existence was Life, and the Life was Light to live by. The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out.
We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, generous inside and out, true from start to finish.
A Second Reading: Genesis 1: 1-5
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light;” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness he called night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
Jesus is THAT
So what we are wanting to explore are some of the ways the New Testament attempts to acquaint us with Jesus via some of the names the New Testament writers use for Jesus.
He is lightening in a bottle really——a comet of compelling/magnetic love whose wondrous being and presence words have failed to capture—-not to mention sonnets, paintings, poetry.
We know he existed. A human being was born and walked the earth as a sage and a healer and in his mid 30’s was crucified.
His was a most astonishingly MEMORABLE life…radiant with kindness and joy and peace and a wisdom that still takes us to the deepest places of our souls.
In this life, humanity has glimpsed and continues to glimpse who it is we are capable of being. It’s such an attractive possibility. Every other possible aspiration…..wealth/power/acclaim—as enticing as they are—we KNOW they pale in comparison to the spiritual radiance of this life.
The New Testament is an ode to the beauty of this life and this person.
It’s a testimony to the depth of his impact on those who shared his earthly life and experienced his risen life and who are attempting to do two things—-to convey their experience of him TO US and to profess what their (and our) EXPERIENCE of Jesus MEANS.
Among all the institutions and communities and movements in the world, the Church’s unique mission is to continue to offer to people A MEANS OF EXPERIENCING THE RISEN JESUS AND THE MEANING OF THESE EXPERIENCES via these writings and via life shared in a community being formed by his living presence.
The New Testament writers have given us ALL KINDS OF stories and insights to help us experience the Jesus of their experience.
And in all this material they have given us many names by which we might know Jesus.
We are going to explore five in five weeks leading up to the season of Lent
Today——-LOGOS or WORD
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.
Note how John uses the first line of his Gospel to echo the first line of Genesis—“in the beginning.” So he is calling out to his Jewish readers here. Then he uses the Greek word LOGOS which is translated Word. Here he is calling out to his non Jewish readers—Gentiles—-many of whom may know that in Greek thought the term LOGOS is used by Greek philosophers to refer to the unseen but powerful organizing principle of the created world.
John’s astonishing first line then asserts that in Jesus of Nazareth the Creator of Genesis and the Logos of Greek thought have manifested as a human being.
If John were writing today he might assert that the incomprehensible intelligence and power that generated the Big Bang and billions of galaxies, and the mysterious baffling forces which govern subatomic particles have manifested as a human being.
I think that what John is wanting to convey here is that in whatever way philosophy or science or theology may attempt to describe or define the deepest and most UNDEFINE-ABLE REALITY in the universe—
Jesus is THAT.
Whatever is JUST BEYOND OUR ABILITY TO DEFINE OR COMPREHEND 2000 years ago, today, or numberless centuries in the future
Jesus is THAT.
Jesus of Nazareth is THE REALEST REALITY OF ALL
So words cannot say what or who Jesus is——more words have been spoken and written and sung about him than any other person—many of them absolutely WONDERFUL words. But they fall short.
Trillions of words cannot name the WORD.
So then——how are we to KNOW this Jesus? How are we to EXPERIENCE this Jesus?
Well—-by definition—–as WORD—–he is present in all things, all people right?
So——–slow down—–be still—-be quiet—–be observant.
Put your house at rest—as the great 16th century mystic John of the Cross says.
HE will come to YOU
HE will REVEAL himself to YOU—as John of the Cross describes in his poem (below)
This is one of the most famous spiritual poems in history.
In moments that words can’t capture or contain
When tears come—whether tears of gratitude or grief
When the heart moves up into the throat for some fullness that is filling us
When our breath catches at the beauty of something or the brokenness of something
When we are flush with love for another person or for all humanity
When, shrouded in darkness we yearn for the light
When we feel profoundly alone and small in a very large universe
When, as John of the Cross writes; our “cares are forgotten among the lilies”
When we find ourselves wordless—speechless…
Jesus is THAT.
Amen…Here’s the poem.
On a dark night/Kindled in love with yearnings–oh, happy chance!
I went forth without being observed/My house being now at rest.
In darkness and secure/By the secret ladder, disguised–oh, happy chance!
In darkness and in concealment/My house being now at rest.
In the happy night/In secret, when none saw me/Nor I beheld aught/Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart.
This light guided me/More surely than the light of noonday/ To the place where he (well I knew who!) was awaiting me
A place where none appeared.
Oh, night that guided me/Oh, night more lovely than the dawn/Oh, night that joined Beloved with lover/Lover transformed in the Beloved!
Upon my flowery breast/Kept wholly for himself alone/There he stayed sleeping, and I caressed him/And the fanning of the cedars made a breeze.
The breeze blew from the turret/As I parted his locks;
With his gentle hand/He wounded my neck/And caused all my senses to be suspended.
I remained, lost in oblivion/My face I reclined on the Beloved/All ceased and I abandoned myself/ Leaving my cares forgotten among the lilies.
Saint John of the Cross 1542-1591