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In the Beginning Was the Word

In the Beginning Was the Word
This is a sermon that I preached on Sunday, 12/31/17, at the Washington City Church of the Brethren. The scripture readings for this sermon were: Galatians 3:23-25; 4:4-7 & John 1:1-18. You can listen to the audio, or keeping scrolling to read my manuscript. (FYI, the spoken sermon differs from the written text.)

Listen to the Sermon Now

In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God. And the Word was God.

The Spirit of God hovered over the waters. The voice of God spoke light into the darkness. By his Word, God divided the day from the night. He created the dry land. He made the seas teem with life, and filled the earth with beauty. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.

All things came into being through him. Without him, not one thing came into being. Not the trees and grass. Not the stars in the sky or the rumbling furnace beneath the earth. Not one thing came into being without the Word. This word that was with God in the beginning.

Everything we see, all that we know, the entirety of who we are – none of it exists except through him. The love, the creative power, the living presence of God’s Word is the author of all creation. “Let there be light!” said God. And there was light. And God saw that the light was good. A reflection of the light of his Word.

What came into being in him was life. And this life was the light of all people. The Word of God speaks in and through the whole creation. In every solemn stone, in every living thing. In every human heart, the Word of God is here – alive and active. He’s still creating us. Growing us. Teaching us.

This is the true light, who enlightens everyone that comes into the world. The Word of God speaks within each one of us. He is our ground and our foundation. It is through him that we came to have existence at all. He knows us intimately. We are what we are, because of the Word who formed us.

The light shines in the darkness. The Word of God, this light, is no stranger to the darkness. He knew Stalin, and Hitler, and the Columbine shooters. God has seen the way hatred and fear have twisted his good creation. And again he has sent his Word to us, this time with the ministry of reconciliation. To untwist the twisted, heal the broken, and restore the earth.

God loves us because he truly knows us. He knows everyone you’ve ever hated, more intimately than they could ever know themselves. God loves the people that you hate. Of course he does. He created them. He knows them with the care and affection that a parent has for a child.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it. The love of God is so full. His creativity is so expansive. God understands each one of us to the very core of our being. God knows and understands the darkness we carry inside.

Though it seems terrifying, the darkness isn’t that powerful. It shudders, trembles in the presence of the light. Darkness resists – with lies, and rage, and arrogance, and violence – but it will never understand who the light truly is. The burning, searing love of the Word of God is a mystery.

The Word of God is powerful, like a two edged sword. Like a surgeon with a scalpel, God’s Word cuts for the sake of love. He is the sword that heals. He is the light that exposes and cleanses.

Yet this world, in it sickness, doesn’t want to be healed. Our thoughts and deeds of darkness don’t want to be exposed. So we have resisted the light, just like our ancestors did. We’re part of a very old story.

The light and Word of God has always been in the world, speaking to us in the creation, and in our hearts. Yet the world did not know him. We despised and rejected him. We preferred our world of darkness and confusion to the health, humility, and challenge that the Word of God demands of us. We turned away from the light.

But there is power in the name of Jesus. There is a change that comes for those of us who have made the decision to turn our lives over to the light of God. To all who receive him, he gives us power to become children of God. Living in his light, allowing his Word to speak in us and fill us, we discover a a whole new life that we never imagined possible. We are born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

But this is all so abstract. We can talk all day about the light. About the Word of God and what he did and is doing in the creation of the cosmos. We can talk about darkness and sin, and the power of the light to overcome death and heal the world. But it all easily starts sounding like just more mythology. Good stories we tell ourselves to order our society and treat one another decently, maybe. But nothing that could possibly topple empires and economies. Nothing that can raise the dead, heal the sick, and preach good news to the poor.

God knew we needed more than a good story about light and darkness. We’ve gotten ourselves into so much trouble, he knew that we needed even more than the quiet whisperings of the Spirit. We needed to get beyond mountains, and temples, and goats’ blood, and the law. We needed a new mediator and a new covenant. We needed to see the face of God for ourselves. We needed to meet the Word face to face.

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. He moved into the neighborhood. We have seen his glory. We say together with the Apostles that we have seen his glory. We witness the glorious presence of God in the face of Jesus of Nazareth. In Jesus we see God’s grace and truth, the loving relationship that is only possible between father and son, parent and child. Before, we could have said we did not know God, we had never seen him. But now we have no such excuse. From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

We learn from the Hebrew scriptures that no one can ever see God and live. Knowing this, God came to us. He took on human form – he became a human being, just like you and me. The invincible and sovereign Word of God – the one who created black holes, supernovae, and photosynthesis – became a little baby boy. Utterly helpless. Dependent. Weak.

“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.” The law was given through Moses, on top of a mountain with fire and smoke, with dreadful awe and power. But the ultimate revelation, the final word on who God really is, came through Jesus – God with us in the most real and tangible sense imaginable.

Jesus wasn’t some mythological demigod. He wasn’t a sort of blended god/man. In Jesus, God took on all our limitations. He was no different from you or me, except that he was without sin. It’s quite possible that some of us have a better grasp on mathematics than Jesus did. That’s the kind of character that God revealed in Jesus – a God so powerful, so full of love for us, that he was willing to limit himself. He became weak and poor. He suffered shame and death on a cross. Because we hated the light and chose to crucify the light rather than surrender our darkness.

It is time to stop resisting. The light has come. It is time for celebration. Jesus is here! The Messiah child is born! The Word of God, all-powerful, all-creative, all-loving, has come to live among us! Nothing can ever be the same again.

There is a light shining in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it. God has sent the spirit of his son into our hearts, crying “Abba! Father!” We are children of the light. We are sons and daughters of God, walking in the footsteps of Jesus. He is our brother, our friend, our sovereign lord and teacher.

We are children of the light. In the midst of all this darkness, this light in us can never be defeated. We are children of the light. Sing and rejoice, you children of the day and of the light. For the Lord God is at work in this dark night that can be felt.

Trust him. He’s been here a long time. Before the sun ignited and the planets formed, he is here. Before the earth’s crust cooled and the seas filled with life, he is here. In the beginning was the Word. He is our past, present, and future.

The Word has become flesh and dwelt among us. In Jesus. In this little fellowship gathered together in his name. In all creatures great and small that hear his voice. When we remember that he is powerful, present, and leading us. Even in this deep winter season, the Word is alive.

Related Posts:

That Gospel – I Don’t Think It Means What You Think It Means

Does the Bible Contradict Itself About Faith Versus Works?

  • I love these things about your sermon & can testify to their validity:

    //We can talk all day about the light. About the Word of God and what he did and is doing in the creation of the cosmos. We can talk about darkness and sin, and the power of the light to overcome death and heal the world. But it all easily starts sounding like just more mythology….We needed to see the face of God for ourselves. We needed to meet the Word face to face….There is a light shining in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it (i think & hope!)…In all creatures great and small that hear his voice. //

    I would not feel hesitant about sharing this with anyone except ppl who are in the first stages of grief & loss over leaving a cult experience of xianty.

  • Paul Ricketts

    I will say right off the bat, I am very conflicted about institutional Christianity. I definitely believe there was a man named Jesus. The presence of God found a home in his heart.To what degree I don’t know??? I have no clue. I wasn’t there 2,000 years ago. So I’m basically an agnostic when it comes to the christology of Jesus. And I’m a little bit leery of people who say they do know who James was.. Like the council of nicea. Unlike what traditional Christianity says about him, when a man said he was good. Jesus said to him “Why do you call me good? Only God is good.”

    My friend Ahmed wrote outstanding editor article in my local newspaper theJournal Gazette. ”A Muslim’s wish for Christmas” http://www.journalgazette.net/opinion/columns/20171221/a-muslims-wish-for-christmas Ahmed writes,”My wish, as a Muslim, is that we do put Christ back in Christmas – and beyond. No, this is not an article about the over-commercialization of Christmas, nor is it a rant on Christmas music booming through shops and malls hallways in September (although both deserve an article of their own). Rather, this is a call to study, learn and reflect upon one of the most beloved, most influential figures in history and, most importantly, to put his teachings in practice.”

    A Christian responded yesterday to his article ”Suggestion to Muslims: Finish journey to Christ” Mr Gross writes,” Christians who truly know Christ should respond to Muslims (and all others outside the faith) without fear or threats or verbal attacks or worse, but rather with an open, continual invitation to “complete” your love for Christ by recognizing him as God in the flesh, to take to heart the very focal point of Christmas – inviting him to move into your heart and receive the full assurance of eternal life totally and exclusively via his sacrifice and love for you.”

    Also yesterday in your Blog you wrote, ”In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God. And the Word was God. The Word of God speaks in and through the whole creation. In every solemn stone, in every living thing. In every human heart, the Word of God is here – alive and active. He’s still creating u https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/625c58298920d4bd447a7916a62cef900fb8c969230e1147b4cdc0e40fefa32c.jpg s. Growing us. Teaching us. The Word of God speaks within each one of us. He is our ground and our foundation. It is through him that we came to have existence at all. He knows us intimately. We are what we are, because of the Word who formed us.”

    Take out the pronouns such as ”His” or ”Him” I LOVE this affirmation of faith!

    You continue ”We’ve gotten ourselves into so much trouble, he knew that we needed even more than the quiet whisperings of the Spirit. We needed to get beyond mountains, and temples, and goats’ blood, and the law. We needed a new mediator and a new covenant. We needed to see the face of God for ourselves. We needed to meet the Word face to face.”

    Jesus spoke of the Law and the Prophets as the absolute guide for him and his ministry. He warned against anyone arguing that even the smallest command in the Law and Prophets could be disregarded, saying it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than the most minor point of the Law. He said that the Scripture (meaning the Hebrew Bible) could not be broken. He constantly turned to the Law and the Prophets as basis for what he preached. He kept the Law himself, regularly attended synagogue, and observed the Feast Days outlined by Moses. Jesus was pointing to a tradition and an authority much older than himself, and it is to that tradition that I must trust, as he himself did.

    Deeply rooted in that tradition is a belief that we are all created in God’s image.Yes, as my friend Stuart Masters has shared “We all inherit (i.e. are socialised into) the flaws, crimes and mistakes of our ancestors (e.g. their use of violence, their iniquity, their patriarchy, their racism, their exploitation of other animals, their destruction of the creation).

    God never abandoned us!We have the word of God within, by which we can choose good and refuse evil. The parable of the Sower, where the seed (the Word) falls into “the good ground” of “an honest and good heart is good example.

    In your writing sometimes Micah I feel you like Mr Gross believe that Christianity is the fulfillment of Judaism and all other religions. Christ’s death was a sacrifice made to appease the Divine anger. Personally I do not believe Christ’s death was a sacrifice made to appease the Divine anger, but it was an expression of the Divine love. And Christianity is not the fulfillment of Judaism. Or any other religion. But a way to understand the presence and work of the word of God within us. And in each other.

  • I have found the juxtaposition of John 1 and Genesis 1 to be very fruitful. The more I dig into it, the more I see. In the Hebrew (and I am no expert on this) ″darkness″ can imply misery, destruction, ignorance, sorrow, wickedness, and death or lifelessness. Genesis states that lifelessness (among other things) covered the face of the deep. ″Let there be light″ is the beginning of life. When Isaiah wrote of the Messiah bringing those who are in darkness into the light or of the Messiah being the covenant of light, he is writing of this same juxtaposition. On the one hand is misery, destruction, ignorance, sorrow, wickedness, and death (i.e. sin) and on the other hand is life, understanding, righteousness, and contentment in God (i.e. salvation).

    George Fox wrote: ″And you who have received Christ, have received power to become the sons of God, and to believe in the light, in obedience to Christ’s command; by which you become children of the light, and children of the day . . . you have the light, to see all evil, and the power to withstand it . . . (Works of Fox, Vol. VIII, p. 33)

    When you admonish people to believe in the light, to become children of the day, what changes do you expect to see taking place as the result?