Sunday, January 4, 2015

and the Word was made flesh

May my words be in the Name of the Holy & Undivided Trinity: + Father, Son, & Holy Spirit.

Our Gospel reading today, the first 18 verses from St John's Gospel, is like entering into a time machine, one that takes us from the past to the present and on into the future. We are taken into the past by the very first verse: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. This, of course, takes not only into the past but to the very beginning of time itself, the moment when God created the universe. St John is deliberately echoing the opening words of Genesis, which says 'In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. ' 

It is a very Trinitarian moment: in it we see God the Father, creator of heaven and earth; we have his Son, in his creative word by which he will not only bring light into being, but everything else (often portrayed as the Wisdom of God elsewhere in the Old Testament); and we have his Holy Spirit, moving upon the face of the waters, in the Hebrew hovering over the waters, in much the same way that the Holy Spirit will hover in the form of a dove over Jesus when he is being baptised in the Jordan by John.

We are taken into the present – the present of the time when the Evangelist is writing – when he tells us that the Word was made flesh and lived among us. And St John wants us to have no doubt that the Word of which he speaks is the same Word by which God created all things, the Word that was with God in the beginning, and that this Word is himself God. So that when he tells us that the Word was made flesh he is telling us that God was made flesh, that God became a human being, and lived on earth with all the other human beings who were alive at that time. 

Pause and consider the wonder and the mystery of that: the same God who created the universe out of nothing chose to become part of it as a living, breathing person. No pretending; no flitting in for a brief visit in some kind of human mask or costume, spending a little quality time enjoying some of the pleasures of this earth, and skipping back off to heaven. No. He became flesh - a real human being who would get hungry, thirsty, nipped by mosquitoes, burned by the sun, chilled by the wind and rain; a real person who could feel pain, sorrow, anger, loss; someone who could be bruised, cut, hurt, bleed, suffer, and die.

And why he did it takes us to the future of our short period of time travelling this morning. He did it so that '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.' The Word became flesh so that you and I and everyone else could become children of God; God became man so that man might be with God in heaven. He did it for the salvation of all humanity, so that all the world might be saved. 

He did it because, as John puts it later in his Gospel, God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.' He did it so that all the people of St John's time, all the people that would follow after his time right down to the present moment, including us here this morning, and all those who will come after us until the end of the world and until the end of time itself would have eternal life with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit for all eternity in heaven. 

And as I end, I will remind you of one thing: note well that St John says this gift is for those who receive this Word made flesh, this eternal life is for those who believe in him. God offers his salvation to all who open their hearts to his eternal Word in love and in obedience. And I pray that all here will do so in the name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, three persons in one God: Amen.  

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