“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.” John 1:1-5
I love this piece of Scripture, with its talk of the divine Word, the Word that is both one with God and is God, the Word that is both life and light, the Word that became flesh and lived among us, the Word that is Jesus the Christ, whose birth we will be celebrating so very, very soon.
This passage from John is one of my most favorite pieces of Scripture in the entire Bible (it and the story of Balaam and his talking donkey in Numbers - but I digress). It is also one of the very few Scripture readings that has the power to literally render me to tears whenever I either read it, or hear it being read by another.
My response to its words is almost Pavlovian – from its very first words “In the beginning was the Word,” I begin to feel a catch in my throat and my eyes begin to tear. (As I was assigned to read this piece during our most recent Advent Lessons and Carols service, I found myself practicing it over and over in the Sacristy before the service began so that my voice wouldn’t crack during its reading – and yet I still found myself caught up in its words.)
I can think of many reasons why I feel the way I do about this piece from John’s Gospel: the beauty of its writing – being both very poetic and incredibly artistic in its prose - how it so beautifully describes Christ as divine Word, light and life, and how it is so sure in Christ’s oneness with God, a oneness that has existed from the very beginning of all time.
Mostly, however, it is because these words awaken in me an overwhelming feeling of hope – feelings that can so often be, and often are, muted by the darkness of the world about us. Darkness not caused by the lack of sunlight – though I must say that I am so very tired of what seems to be the perpetual darkness of winter – but rather the darkness caused by the world – human-made darkness that threatens to snuff out all hope from all of existence.
Darkness felt by and seen in the faces of the people of war-torn Aleppo. Darkness felt by the families of the people injured or killed in the Berlin Christmas Market and the families of those killed in the fireworks explosion in Mexico. Darkness felt by the people of the Standing Rock Nation as they face the ravages of winter while they seek to protect their water and historical burial sites. Darkness felt by the immigrant, the refugee, the Muslim community, the LGBTQ community, the homeless community as they face an uncertain future in the face of rhetoric both written and/or spoken that is meant to evoke fear in the “other.”
Such great darkness that it is so easy to lose our way – to get lost in a raging and turbulent sea of hopelessness.
It is in this sea of dark hopelessness that the light of Christ shines through, so pure and so true that the darkness cannot overcome it. A light which calls us to not be afraid because it is the light which enlightens everyone, the light which came into the world with a Word of Peace and Love and Hope. The Light we, as followers of Jesus, are to carry out into the world, bringing that Word of Peace, Love and Hope to anyone and everyone we meet.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” Is it any wonder that I cry when I hear these words?
Blessings to all this Christmastide. May you find Peace and Love and Hope in your hearts.