August 4, 2014 - (Week of the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 13)
Gospel Reading for the Day: John 1:1-18
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.
the ideas (ideas)
Today's lection begins the Gospel of John. Chapter 1 of John is huge as far as theology and mission goes. Theologically we get something different than Matthew, Mark, and Luke (the Synoptics). They choose things like genealogies and human parents to begin with. In those Gospels, Jesus is a human who is slowly revealed to be divine. John minces no words. Jesus is God and has been with God since the beginning.
Theologically, we get a huge portion of our Trinitarian understanding here. The eternal Logos ("Word") of God is the second person of the Trinity come to us, born of a woman, as Jesus Christ. God spoke creation into existence ("And God said, "Let there be...") and Jesus is that Word which God spoke. Therefore, John can say that the Word was with God in the beginning and it is by the Word that all things have come into being. We know that John is recalling the creation account in Genesis 1 when he begins his Gospel by saying, "In the beginning..."
As far as mission goes (missiologically), Jesus' example here is referenced by many folks looking at tough ministry opportunities. As the Word takes on our humanity and lives in our reality ("And the Word became flesh and lived among us"), so we are called to do that for others. We are called to live among and with the people, to inhabit their reality as children of God. This has been called "incarnational ministry" - to take on the flesh (incarnate) of the people and the place.
the stuff (application)
- God becomes a human and that God/Human comes to us as Jesus Christ. Jesus reveals to us the fullest picture of who God is. Jesus also reveals to us what a real human looks like untainted by brokenness and rebellion (sin). We need to immerse our lives into the story of Jesus as he is the Lord of our life and the example of how we are to live. Read all your scripture all the time, but make sure you are reading the life of Christ above all. Jesus is the lens by which we interpret everything, all reality, all theology, all scripture - after all, "all things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being."
- "he gave power to become children of God..." - The Synoptics (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) want to paint Jesus' followers as disciples, while John is much more interested in painting a picture of God's family. The Son of God, Jesus, who takes on our humanity, brings a reality where we are children of God. You are a son or daughter of God if you are in Christ! God's DNA is in you. But you are not alone, you are part of a family with siblings. The German theologian/martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, writes that part of the problem with the church is that we have made an ideal of becoming a family someday. Instead, he writes, "...Christian brotherhood is not an ideal, but a divine reality” (Life Together, p. 26). The Gospel of John is all about embracing an alternate reality, the true reality of eternal life found in Jesus Christ. Live into the reality that you are a child of God and your church is full of your siblings. Your Father has already provided you with Jesus Christ, the one who brings power for you to be a part of the family, who brings grace and truth, and who shows us how to live the beautiful life God has called us to.
- Exercise: In attempting to immerse our lives into the life of Jesus, and in recognition that we are a child of God in the family of God, call/email/text/facebook someone in your church who you think exemplifies Jesus and ask them what their favorite Gospel passage is (story about Jesus, parable, teaching). Ask them why. Pick their brain. Hear their heart. Meditate on their words.