In the beginning was the word…
In the beginning when God created the heavens and earth…
In the beginning of 2018…
Who is ready for a new beginning?
2017 saw so many acts of violence – terrorist attacks, racial injustice, riots, people killed in their own church while attending worship, refugees looking for a safe place to call home for just a while.
No reprieve from the political speech making either. Doesn’t matter which party you support, it will only get worse as we head into a mid-term election year.
An atmosphere of fear continues to pervade the country as heightened security measures at national events such as the Times Square ball drop and the Tournament of Roses parade remain in place from two years ago.
I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a new beginning!
Sometimes we have to go back to the old beginnings to understand and fully appreciate the new beginnings.
Sometimes we need to go back to the beginning to realize how important that beginning was, to understand who we were, whose we are and who we are called to be. And to understand that while the past is our past it doesn’t define our identity but simply informs us. It’s part of the fabric of who we were, are and will be.
And beginning at the beginning is the best place to understand what God has done, is doing and will do in our lives.
The Gospel of John begins like the writer of Genesis, with the words, “In the beginning…” and in those very first words, the writer wants us to understand that Jesus didn’t start in Bethlehem. God is eternal and so is Jesus.
The writer has given Jesus an interesting name – he called him “word” or in the Greek, “logos,” which means an expression of a thought or reason. And from this word we also get “logo,” which can mean a literal, physical expression.
So, here are some for you to picture in your minds:
The “golden arches” – smelling the French fries? Thinking about a “Happy Meal”? McDonald’s!
Cutting edge in electronics…the late Steve Jobs… iPhones, Mac books! Apple!
And … Reaching, Loving, Caring… Resurrection!
You get the idea… Jesus is the “logos” – the Word, the literal, physical expression of God, with God in the beginning, the true light that gives light to the world was coming into the world. Jesus is the mind of God, the design of God and the purpose of God.
And what is the purpose of words, of language? What do we say to little children – use your words! Yes, that bite will communicate your frustration and anger – but using your words is much better and doesn’t get you into “time-out!”
Words allow us to communicate, to share our thoughts, to express our feelings. With them we express ourselves.
Jesus expresses God’s love to the word because he is God’s word and he is showing us this remarkable and unfathomable love for us through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
God speaks to us and shows us that he will do a new thing through life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
“The word became flesh and lived among us…” Quite literally, in the original language of the New Testament – in the Greek – God pitched his tent right in our neighborhood and hung out with us.
The God who spoke the world into being is now one of us lying in a manger. The God who’s voice sounded like thunder from the top of Mount Sinai now could not utter an intelligible sound and do nothing more than coo and cry.
And as a result, we can now have a new relationship with God. A new beginning with God. We can come to know God through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
And if we know God, then we will see that God is unchanging, trustworthy and awesome. This is why God moved into the neighborhood.
The one who is close to God’s heart, slips on human skin to reveal God’s love to us.
God became a human so that you and I can see God in all his glory – the sum attributes of God.
God became a human so that you I can see God in all his grace – grace upon grace – which are gifts that we receive that are neither deserved or appreciated.
God became human so that you and I can see God in all his truth – unhidden knowledge.
We couldn’t see God before but now we can through the one that is called “Emmanuel” – literally the “with us God”.
God didn’t send anyone – he sent himself, he came himself, he had made himself known.
Knowing God means believing God. Likewise, knowing Jesus and believing who Jesus is matters! God is doing a new thing in us and through us for the sake of the world. And he meets us where we are.
“In the beginning” is the assurance that we are re-created not through our own efforts, which will fall woefully short. God went first into the re-creation. He re-created himself as a human. He re-created himself as Jesus, who has made God known.
He meets us in the flesh just where we are and loves us way too much to leave us there. He re-creates us and makes us new.
He takes all that we were and all that we are and makes something new. He takes all our hopes and fears and makes us new.
“In the beginning” doesn’t mean that we leave the old because we think the new is so much better. It’s the promise that God has been there, is here now and will be there in the future – and God’s heart and character will create that future.
Likewise, God takes our past and who we thought we were, who we are now and recreates the persons that we are called to be.
“In the beginning” is the promise that God has brought us too far just to leave us.