Sermon on John
by Virginia McBride
In the beginning was the Word.
Was it a whispered word?
A sung word?
Or was it a joyfully shouted word?
A word to make God dance with happiness at what was being created.
A shouted word.
Yes, I like that.
The author Madeleine L'Engle writes: "the amazing thing is
that at the beginning there was darkness, formless and empty...
and then the Word shouting for joy, and here we are."
It is a birth. The birth of everything. Not the birth in Bethlehem
we celebrated that birth just a week ago. But it is a birth.
The Word shouted into being.
The word heard by all creation long before it was read by anyone.
What if we reinterpret the tense of today's Gospel and say In the
beginning is God and the word is with God and the word is God. All
things come into being through him and without him not one thing
is. Not one thing is.
Again Maadeleine L'Engle says, "In that first epiphany when
matter was formless and space was empty, God created. How marvelous
that there is, rather than there is not. There is, and we are part
of that is-ness."
Looking again at John, "...and without him not one thing came
into being. The life was the light of all people. The light shines
in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it."
The darkest place I have ever been was in a deep cave on
a guided tour and the lights were purposefully turned off.
It was a complete darkness that is hard to describe. One could almost
feel the darkness. It was intense. There was nothing there. My eyes
could not become accustomed to it. Then one match was lit, and we
all gasped or let out a sigh of relief that we could see again.
"In the beginning," it says in Genesis, "dankness
was upon the face of the deep." An inky blackness a
total darkness and God said, "Let there be light."
God shouted Light and saw that it was good.
The light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome
When I was a young teenager at St. James in Hibbing, I loved to
hear the Gospel of John read by Father Taylor. I was in the choir
sitting right up front. When he came to "And the Word was made
flesh and dwelt among us", he turned toward the altar and genuflected.
I was in awe and wonderment. For years whenever this Gospel was
read, I could hear Father Taylor's voice.
We pray in the Collect "pour upon us the new light of your
incarnate Word." Light and word again. The incarnate word means
Christ the Word is both God and man.
God and man. Simple to say.
More difficult to understand or explain. Man and God. Maybe one
of those concepts it's better just to believe. The new light. It
is different from the first list, the "in the beginning"
light. Or is it the same light shouted by God in the beginning and
again at the birth in Bethlehem?
John tells us that in Jesus we are met by that same Word through
whom was brought into being all that is, and in whom is life. The
primal light by which we live. The word is said to be pre-existent
in that the word of creation had an existence before creation itself,
as did God.
Isaiah says "I will not rest until Jerusalem's vindication
shines out like the dawn, and her salvation like a burning torch."
Dawn and a burning torch. Two more sources of light.
When you see the sun rise, does it feel as if the creator is shouting
with joy? ...shouting a new day into being? Which is why upon awakening
I say, "this is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice
and be glad in it."
...or when at a campfire, do you realize you are feeling the heat
of the sun because the sun caused the tree to grow, and when the
tree died and is now burning, it is releasing the stored up energy
of the sun as it gives out its heat? So we can enjoy the fire and
say "thank you God for the sun."
That fire, too, is shouting with joy as it crackles and leaps.
Shouting God's shout of creation. For without God's word not one
thing came into being.
The life that is the light of all people.
The light that the darkness cannot overcome.
It is good that we read these lessons now in the darkest time of
our year, when we are yearning for light both visual aqnd spiritual.
Celebrate that light
Celebrate that word
Celebrate the glorious shout which brought it all into being
... in the beginning