December 25, 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 |
“In the beginning was the Word.”
The great philosopher John Locke observed
that words are “the sensible marks of ideas.”
In today’s gospel we learn that God has a new idea;
Indeed, God has a history of developing new ideas.
If God has a signature line, it would be
“I have a new idea!”
Experiencing our gospel fresh
Makes us think back to the original idea
From the words,
“In the beginning…”
Our gospel author intentionally calls to mind
The idea of Genesis;
That God was, and is, and will forever be
a God of creation.
Creation is God’s idea.
It is more than a plan.
It is God’s way of doing business;
An essential core of God’s divine nature.
God transformed an idea into action
And six days later the world as we know it
Was birthed and brought into being.
Our gospel author known as John
Tells us that God’s creation was fully God’s own.
God was, and is, responsible for every atom,
And all the space in-between,
in the cosmos.
Our divine Creator has a hand in
– Nature: earth, fire, air, and water
– Life: plants, animals, and humans
– Being: personality, conscience, and soul.
Being a God of new ideas,
Of always being in the business of creating,
Means that God is never stuck in the past,
Content to be a prisoner to what was,
what has been,
or how it was always done before.
And neither should we.
John paints a portrait of a forward leaning God,
Always on the cutting edge
Of transforming today’s dreams and ideas
into tomorrow’s reality.
It was, and is, an evolutionary leap forward
From just creating things
To creating life.
Yes, God evolved.
The idea that carbon-based cells
Can be filled with divine breath
And spring to life is simply astonishing.
God brought together physics and chemistry to create biology;
That the Holy Spirit might breath life into the world.
God has an intimate hand in the creation of each and every life,
– From seed to sperm,
from egg to mitosis,
from blood to every beating heart –
God has, and continues to be,
the one and only source of life.
Left to its own ends,
Life is pretty chaotic, unorganized, and ultimately meaningless.
Life without direction becomes self-centered, self-serving, and self-absorbed.
We live, we work, we procreate, we die.
We create artificial means to gauge success, such as money, property, or things.
But, at the end of the day,
the body returns to ashes,
and everything we’ve accumulated is redistributed to the next generation.
Even God is able to see the futility of life lived inside a spinning wheel.
God’s new idea was to call, to covenant, to command, and to provide directive council.
It wasn’t enough to set the world into motion
Only to step back and watch the chaos begin.
God jumped in, made covenant with our father, Abraham,
To forever be our God, and we, God’s people.
God sent Moses,
Gave us Law, a framework for living together in peace, justice, and faithfulness.
Righteousness became our new salvation;
Life lived in complete harmony with our creator.
The Lord gave us direction,
Speaking through the voice of chosen prophets,
in an effort to reveal God’s divine will.
Judgment was quick, but just and fair.
One would think this would be a great plan;
An idea so good it would be
The last idea God would ever have to implement.
Yet, from the beginning,
From the very start,
When humans received the gift of personal will and free choice,
It is as if we’ve been in an eternal struggle with the very one who has given us life.
We are tempted to sin,
drawn to the darkness,
insistent on exercising our will.
We’ve never been able to let it go,
Let it be,
Or to just let God.
What was needed was a new idea.
Life by itself wasn’t sustainable.
God’s new creation,
Reported by John,
Is light, the light of all people.
God’s new idea,
Was to bridge the chasm between heaven and earth,
Directly enter this world through Mary’s womb,
And to become the guiding light;
that will overcome the darkness,
that will save all people.
“And the Word became flesh and lived among us.”
God’s new idea was to send us his son, Jesus.
The Word of God
Became the Flesh of God.
Instead of speaking through others,
God came, was born Jesus, and did the talking himself.
More than just talking, Jesus did the dying and the resurrecting, too!
In doing so,
Life took on new meaning.
Life became fulfilling.
Life took on a new purpose.
No longer are we simply meant to live, to breed, and to die.
We are meant to love, and to be loved
– to love our God, to love our neighbors, to love our enemies.
We are meant to forgive, and be forgiven
– to make things right with those we have crossed, to make things right with our God.
We are meant to save and to be saved
– to live forever redeemed, restored, and perfected eternally giving glory to God.
Moses brought the Law.
Jesus brings grace;
Not a free pass, mind you;
Healing and restoration for all those we have broken
If only we ask for forgiveness
and desire to not sin again.
The light of Jesus reveals truth wherever it shines.
Secrets are no more.
Nothing can hide,
For darkness is no more.
The last vestiges of temptation and sin are conquered.
All is revealed to God
Who stands as our eternal arbitrator.
Grace and truth defines Jesus Christ
Just as creation is the signature of God.
Where does this leave us today?
2023, merely a week away, will be a new year,
filled with new opportunities,
yet, filled with the same old temptations.
The Word didn’t become flesh for us to continue to live in 2022,
1990, or 1965, for that matter.
God’s new idea is made into flesh
To bring love to the new year,
To spread forgiveness of sins and proclaim pardon in 2023,
To be God’s grace revealing God’s eternal saving truth in 2023.
Take a look at the people around you.
They may appear to be the same old family members and friends.
But each is filled with God’s new creation, new ideas, new possibilities for the New Year.
Ask yourself, “how is Christ working though you to bring love, redemption and salvation into the world?”
God is not only creating something new within you,
But something new within each and every one of us.
Take a look at this bread and this wine we are about to consume.
It may appear to be the same old communion served the same old way.
But in this bread and in this wine
– in this body and blood of Christ –
is the illuminating truth
that will not only sustain you,
but will continue to light your way today, tomorrow, and for the rest of your life.
God is about all things new.
God is in the business of creating life.
God is in the habit of creating light.
The former things?
They have passed away.
Behold, Christ has come.
Christ is come.
Christ will come again.