The Word Became Flesh
1 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,[a] 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.[b]
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,[c] 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,[d] full of grace and truth.
Its a new year! I’m sure we all have hopes and dreams for this new year!
I know that I have some…but, it’s also to be reminded, over and over, that each year presents hard things, a struggle, but also growth and joy. As we’ve said over Christmas, this is a time of the year to remind us that hope, joy, love, peace are wrapped up in Jesus coming to us, even in the darkest times of our lives. I am reminded of this whenever I hang out with my spiritual director. We often hear God nudging us to find God’s self in the darkest parts of our lives. Through contemplation, prayer, and lots of running, I find a flow that weaves through my life and from the lives of others…all wrapped up with God’s flow that leads to growth.
That flow starts with relationship. We are reminded of the beauty of relationship all around us. Sometimes it’s family, or friends, or church. But, we know that we need relationship…and there is a beauty in relationship.
Being at the top of Mt. Whitney and seeing the world around us. Or hiking through the desert of Joshua Tree with families that were so close to us that we considered them family. And, even recently, hiking with good friends. There’s a journey involved, it takes effort, and some hardship, but the view and the conversations usually lead to a sense of joy.
Even when we are alone, or having life situations that are hard to handle, beauty can be seen around us in the simplest of things. I know this time of the year can be hard for folks, even this week, in visiting and talking with some of our church members, I have heard stories of how hard the holidays can be for some. Yet, in those conversations, I also heard gratitude for our friendships together.
I think that’s part of the beauty of this season where the days are short…the author of John reminds us that God became one of us. That’s why we celebrate. That’s why we give and receive presents during this season. As it says in Scripture, God is our friend and we have the opportunity to return that friendship with God and demonstrate it in how we love others.
Our passage this morning from John says that the Word, or in Greek, Logos, which means expression or form…word a descriptor. The Word is God’s expression in humanity, with humanity. God entrusted God’s self with us by humbling God’s self, emptying God’s self, trusting a couple of poor, vulnerable teenagers, with God’s very expression. Amazing, what a story!!!!!! Truly the real Christmas Story is immersed with mystery, beauty, and love.
This expression, this Word, was with God and is God. The writer of John is implicitly stating that The Word, and The Father, and later the Spirit are one essence together in deep relationship, creating, saving, and sustaining us and all of humanity, through relational energy or flow that is produced in their triune identity. And, we, humanity, are one with Christ and brought up into that relationship. In other words, with all that may be happening in our lives, this baby Jesus represents us, we are mysteriously and wonderfully being reborn, things are made new.
Now, this is truly a gift. Yet, it also says that we didn’t understand that God came to give us life, abundant life, life lived in the fullness of beautiful friendship with one another and with God. We didn’t receive it, we wanted to settle for what we knew, we wanted to try to live into a past that really wasn’t all that great, but at least we could understand it, or so we thought…and still think at times.
Yet, that Gift keeps on giving. The word keeps on being expressed. That word can’t be stopped…it says in verse 13 that it’s God’s decision to change everything, to encompass all of humanity in God’s expression, in Jesus. It’s not our decision, it’s done. God’s made the decision.
What’s more, God says that God’s place, God’s expression, God’s dwelling is with us. Rev. Eugene Peterson, a PCUSA minister, wrote a paraphrase of the Bible called the Message. Here’s how Eugene translates John 1:14:
The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighborhood.
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.
The neighborhood, God moved into the neighborhood. Now, you hear me say that word a lot. But, being placed in my neighborhood, and as your pastor, I see beauty, especially the longer that I’m here. I also see beauty in how Fleming Road UCC is moving beyond its walls to those in our neighborhood, loving them and seeing relationships flow.
Eugene Peterson also says this:
Go figure out what this Scripture means: ‘I’m after mercy, not religion.’ I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders.
I love it! We want to grow? We want to be the church God calls us to be? We want to experience new life, new birth as persons and as a people? Then, follow the example of God, follow the beauty of relationship, follow what the Expression, the logos, the word of God, Jesus does…go outside…as the church, we are Christ’s body, and that’s where we find life…outside! When we are doing that, being that, we will see the generosity and expansive glory of God who revels in his love for humanity, his love for you!