January 2, 2022
The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor
Rush United Methodist Church
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. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. 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.
(John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’”) From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 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.
| Centering Prayer |
This majestic opening to the Gospel of John
Leads me today
to meditation on three things:
Word, Flesh, and Light.
Let’s take a look at each.
“In the beginning”
Always causes my heart to skip.
“In the beginning” is an intentional echo from
The opening line of the Book of Genesis.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
John uses “In the beginning”
To give us the same sense of awe of God and creation.
Our God creates.
This is God’s business.
God creates and it is good,
Good in the case of earth, sea, and stars,
Very good in the case of creating man and woman in God’s own image.
The prologue of the Gospel of John reports
There was nothing before the beginning.
There was and is
Everything else came thereafter
as a consequence of
God’s good, creative work.
The Book of Genesis gives name to the Creator God: Yahweh.
The Gospel of John gives another name to the same Creator God: Word.
Λόγος, Logos, noun, def. – Divine Expression.
Logos. Divine expression. Beautiful, isn’t it?
The difference between Genesis and John is Jesus.
The Gospel reports the truth about Jesus,
The creative expression of
the expansiveness and extravagance of God’s love.
As the new calendar year begins,
The opening prologue of the Gospel of John
Encourages us to be observant and vigilant throughout the year
For signs of Logos,
For Divine expressions of love.
Where might Logos be found in your life this coming year?
It won’t be found in isolation.
The Word, God,
Is most likely to be found
In acts of creating,
When I think of places were creating takes place,
I think of the Arts: music, sculpture, poetry, and paint.
I think of the Environment: mountains, seas, forest, and sunsets.
I think of birth, death, and the fulness of imagination in-between.
In my opinion, that’s where Logos is likely to be found.
When I think of places were love takes place,
I think of parents, children, and families.
I think of the empathetic response to others in need, hunger, clothing, shelter, safety.
I think about answering the call to discipleship, servant leadership, selflessly, faithfully following the will of God.
That’s where you’ll most likely find Logos.
When I think of environments conducive of relationships,
I think of church,
an open, inviting, loving, generous, community of United Methodist right here in Rush.
I think of outreach, visiting, listening, responding to neighbors near and far.
I think of communion, with each other and with our God.
For the Logos in our midst.
Let me share with you a true story about
Ira Cribb (1851-1943).
A Google search of his name
Will inform you that
As highway superintendent
Oil and stone (macadamized) road treatment,
Became known as the “Father of Modern Highways.”
But there was more to Ira
Then what is reported on the internet.
I learned about this remarkable man of faith from Joe Cribb,
Surrogate court justice of Ontario County.
On a warm summer day
Judge Cribb walked me around
to the front lawn of the Canandaigua United Methodist Church building and
Pointed out to me his grandfather’s name
inscribed in stone
at the top of the belltower.
“His name wasn’t inscribed because he gave a lot of money,”
Judge Cribb explained,
“His name was inscribed because he served as the Superintendent of Works
When the building was built.”
This is how faithful and committed Ira Cribb was:
Ira took a leave of absence from his elected position for an entire year,
Pitched a tent and lived in the front yard,
To direct construction
Until the new church building was complete.
Only then did he return home to his family and get back to his job as highway superintendent.
Ira Cribb literally pitched a tent and dwelt in it.
I think of Ira every time
I experience the majestic words of John’s prologue,
“And the Word became flesh and lived among us,” – John 1:14
The word “lived” or “dwelt” is from the Greek, eskēnōsen,
Defined as “tabernacled, to dwell as in a tent, encamp.
( ἐσκήνωσεν: eskēnōsen, verb – def. tabernacled, to dwell as in a tent, encamp )
( Biblehub, as found at https://biblehub.com/interlinear/john/1-14.htm )
God pitched a tent
To live among us.
“Just as God traveled with the people of Israel in the wilderness
by means of the “tent of meeting” in their midst,
John announces that God has chosen
to “tabernacle” among us
in an even more radical way,
by the Word embodied in human flesh.”
( Thanks to Elisabeth Johnson, as found at https://www.workingpreacher.org/commentaries/revised-common-lectionary/second-sunday-of-christmas-3/commentary-on-john-11-9-10-18-9 )
This pandemic is a painful reminder
Of how important in-person relationships
Are to our spiritual health and well-being.
God wouldn’t use prophets or angels to
Standoff, social distance, isolate, or quarantine any longer.
With the birth of Jesus
God is pitching a tent,
Throwing a tabernacle,
Taking up residence,
Right in the middle of humanity,
Up close and personal,
In your face,
In your life and mine.
As 2022 starts to be revealed
Watch for signs of Jesus getting personal with you.
The question isn’t if he will.
Believe me, Jesus will.
The question is whether or not
You’ll recognize Christ’s presence and action in your life,
And respond accordingly.
“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.”
– John 1:4-5
The Light v Darkness metaphor for God v Sin,
Works well but isn’t perfect.
I am sensitive to my darker complexioned sisters and brothers.
Darkness does have some good features:
It is necessary for sleep.
It is essential for the development of film, if that is even done anymore.
It is required to gaze more clearly into the heavens.
Other than that, the benefit of darkness leaves me searching.
The Gospel intent is to expose the relationship between God and Evil.
They are polar opposites.
There is no middle ground.
This is a cosmic zero-sum game
Where God / Jesus is light, and
Satan / Evil is darkness.
Light destroys darkness,
Just as Jesus destroys sin
By his forgiveness and redemptive blood.
Light shines, revealing God’s glory.
The glory of God is revealed
In almighty power,
In omniscience presence,
In disciplined principles (known as Law),
In fidelity to covenants made and kept, and
In the person of Jesus Christ.
Light shines, reveals the fullness of God’s grace and truth.
By word and deed,
Jesus demonstrated that there is no “quit” with God.
Once God created you,
Nothing can separate you from God’s love.
There are no final chances.
The door always remains open.
The Lord will shepherd you until you choose to enter salvations door.
Light shines, revealing the way forward.
Christ has a purpose for you,
A direction for your life,
A lifestyle for the journey,
A destination for your future.
Where is God calling you?
Are you living a lifestyle worthy of Jesus?
What progress are you making?
Good questions to start a new calendar year.
Word, flesh, light.
Where will you find the Word this year?
Get used to the fact that God has pitched a tabernacle in humanity and has made the world God’s forever home.
What does Christ reveal to you? And what are you going to do about it.
Christ coming seems to ask more questions
Then providing quick, easy, cliche, or stock answers.
Take Jesus as serious as a heart attack.
A relationship with Jesus is hard work.
Be like Mary and
Ponder Him in your heart.