CAMINANDO WITH JESUS: A Third Creation Story
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.
- John 1:1-18
Think about it for a minute. Today’s gospel reading from John (often called the Prologue) is really a creation story. All the hints are there:
“In the beginning was the Word…”
“He was in the beginning…”
“All things came into being…”
“What has come into being…”
John is telling a story of God creating. Unlike the two creation stories in Genesis that announce God as creator of mountains and seas, birds and creeping things, and even Adam and Eve, John testifies to God’s creation of our spiritual world. It is a world created by God’s logos, or word. “The word was with God." God says, “Let there be light,” and with those words, all things come to be. Light not only to divide day from night, but light to overcome spiritual darkness: ignorance, fear, hate and self-centeredness. That light was life, and it became the light for all people.
And during this season of Christmas, we celebrate the light incarnate. The light that became flesh and dwelt among us. God’s word made manifest, revealed to us and known to us as Jesus Christ. While Matthew and Luke chose to tell the Incarnation story from an earthly, human perspective, John chose a godly—theological if you will—perspective. John alludes to God as creator from the beginning of all time. God is a cause agent. He causes all things to be, brings all things into existence—into life. God is also revealer. The Word we are told was with God and was in God. So the Word of God sent into the world was God himself. That Word became flesh and revealed God’s light, experienced by us as grace and truth. God’s plan from the very beginning was to bring his light into the world and to be with us. God with us—Emmanuel.
God, John announces, is also the light in this spiritual world of darkness. It is love that comes to us as unconditional love, as forgiveness, as healing and as reconciliation—summed up in John’s words—"grace and truth." God’s love is the light that John talks about. A love that is incomprehensible to this world. Love that cannot be overcome by hate, fear or deceit. Love that is so insistent and persistent that the forces of darkness cannot prevail against it.
This year that is finally coming to a close is probably one that most of us will gladly put behind us. COVID-19 has ravaged this world to an extent thought impossible in modern times. This year has also revealed deep racial and political divides among us, leaving many to despair and doubt whether there is a Balm in Gilead to heal our sin-sick souls. It seems as if our own natural anxiety and self-preoccupation has been magnified by quarantine, social distancing and the reality of having to wear masks. Not only do we shield ourselves from the dangers of COVID but we also seem to be trying to shield ourselves from one another. Our circle of concern for one another appears to be getting smaller, and we have lost confidence not only in our leaders and government but also in ourselves and, most tragically, in God.
But John’s story tells of one who came from God “for our sake and for our salvation and was made man." Those words carry a promise from the Word who creates, reveals himself as light in the midst of darkness, comes to dwell among us, and brings us grace and truth. God gave us power to become the Children of God, not by virtue of our earthly existence, but through the spiritual light that we received from Jesus. We become Children of God because we believe in the light and are faithful to the light.
And that light shines even in our darkest hours, even in the depths of our hopelessness, despair and fear. God’s light shines on. God penetrates our hearts with a light—a love that will never be extinguished and that, most importantly in this dark hour, will never abandon us. While many of the things we thought made us feel safe and secure have proved illusory, God’s light is real.
So John’s Prologue takes us to back the beginning when the Word was God and with God, and continues to be with God. The Word that brought life to this world continues to be the light that shines in the darkness, and the world has never been able to overcome it. Like Jesus, we, the Children of God, will be largely ignored by this world and not accepted as believers of the Light. But we have received God’s grace and—and logos, from Jesus Christ, the Incarnate One. And that love will sustain us in this new year and in the years to come.
The Rev. Gregory A. Jacobs, retired, was formerly canon to the ordinary and chief of staff in the Diocese of Newark.
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