Reading: John 1:1-14
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 beingin 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.
Last Sunday we looked at the word incarnate and explored how we will encounter God incarnate this Christmas time. How this may well differ for each of us. And even for ourselves how this may differ on any given day or whatever experience we are going through. Then during the watchnight service, we looked at a couple of names that the prophet Isaiah gave to the Bethlehem babe: wonderful counsellor and prince of peace. A counsellor, one to whom we can turn at any time and for whatever reason. Someone who will listen and who cares enough for us that we can be truly honest in their presence. The prince of peace, how we long for his peace to be upon our world and within our lives. When peace becomes the default position
of rulers and governments. When peace such as the world cannot give becomes ours to own. What do we do now with this cosmic Word of God, somehow become flesh? This morning we go a bit further as we open up John’s gospel. We move from incarnate with its Latin origins to Logos and its Greek origins. The Gospel of John says the Word was “in the beginning.” “The Word was with God.” “The Word was God.”
“In him was life and the life was the light of all people.” He says further, “The light shines in the darkness….” If you are familiar with musical pieces such as ballets, musicals or operas you will know that the overture introduces the audience to the tunes that are to come in the work. It joins together the more significant musical themes which in itself can be very engaging. The importance though is all about being prepared fully for the whole performance. This passage this morning is often referred to as ‘The Prologue’ to John ‘s Gospel and is more like an overture than an introduction. Almost every sentence contains signals of what will come later. The God who cares passionately and loves sacrificially takes the initiative to live the human life in order that humanity might fulfil God’s purpose and hope for them. Whilst some failed to recognise him and some rejected him, those who responded, witnessed his glory and were able to know God. The experience of the Word made flesh evokes faith and then witnesses to it. John’s famous use of Greek word logos, translated in English to ‘the Word’ in chapter 1 was a well-worn concept that he takes up and transforms. Being the home to the philosopher Heraclitus, many scholars believe Ephesus is the city where John wrote the Gospel. It was around 560 BCE that Heraclitus argued that the whole world is in a state of flux, but that there is one thing holding it all together. It was the logos, the word, the reason of the divine. By the logos the universe was created, by logos the world is sustained, by logos humans are able to reason. In the city with the strongest of logos traditions, the author of the fourth Gospel claims that this overarching force, binding the universe together and conferring life upon all humanity, became a real, mortal, touchable, vulnerable human being. In this short passage our attention is drawn both to the nearness and the infinite reach of the divine, the presence and yet unfathomable riches of the logos, the immanence and the transcendence of God. It sometimes seems as if the darkness of what people do to each other and to themselves, sooner or later, will put out the light. But John says of the light that is Christ, “and the darkness has not overcome it.” That’s the Gospel—which is indeed “good news.” We need to know that there is something which cannot be overcome by the darkness of this world’s death and destruction. John’s Gospel is speaking of that which becomes the most cherished of beliefs, the Incarnation. God knows about the darkness which we face in this world. And the darkness has not, cannot, and will not overcome the light which is God shining in and through Jesus.