Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Reflection on 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."

God’s Word; what a powerful force. Its very utterance cracks open existence and brings forth life. God says, “Let there be light.” And, as soon as God says it, the Word echoes through the darkness and brings light. God says, “Let us create human beings in our image,” and the Word tunnels into the dirt and fashions human beings.

When I was twelve or so, I was fascinated by this idea of such powerful words. I heard through some friends of this group of witches. They were Christian witches, so they said, and they claimed to have stumbled across the ancient words of God; the very words that God spoke to bring about life. They claimed that the word’s very utterance would create life where there was none before. They would run around the countryside, speaking these words, imagining that they were creating flowers and saplings. But, this was just the tip of the iceberg; they had discovered words for many things. Interestingly enough, these witches (who were late teens and early twenties in age) had amazingly stumbled across the words to create true love. Also very interesting, none of them had a boyfriend.

With those small elements of doubt cast aside, I experimented in my room with different words, trying to discover God’s ancient words. I would experiment on the dead flies in my window. I would force strange combinations of vowels and consonants at them to get them to come back to life. I figured a fly would be a good place to start. The word to create a fly had to be pretty simple. Sometimes I would think that I finally had it, but my air from my shouting had merely shifted the fly's position. I was not very good at discovering ancient words of power used by God in the beginning of time. But, that did not stop me from trying.

Later on, as a teenager, I would craft finely tuned sentences to try to get my parents to take me to the mall or to an amusement park. Sometimes the mall spell worked, however the amusement park spell never did.

I used finely crafted sentences to weave their way into the life of a friend who was incredibly depressed and doing all of the wrong things. Trying with all my might to keep him from drinking and experimenting with other substances, my words fell short of magical, and this friend ignored their power.

I am discovering that parents also believe that they wield magical words that can change the lives of their children and create new life in their lives. Parents truly do believe that these words will work to motivate and direct. They spend lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of time weaving together their magical words, only to have an hour’s worth of spell casting destroyed by one powerful little word, “whatever.”

We want others to have the best and to be the best. We want our words to weave their creative magic. We want control in a world of chaos. We desire more than anything to cry out into the darkness and create the light. There is only one problem, when we cry out, our words simply echo around in the darkness. They are our words after-all, not God’s words.

John the Baptist, never claimed to have God’s words. He never claimed that he could speak light into anyone’s life of darkness. You see, he knew and understood what we do not want to accept, “he himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.” He was never fooled at a young age that his words could have real power. He understood whose Word could shape the world and whose Word could bring life. “The true light that enlightens everyone was coming into the world.” John understood that he could talk about God’s Word, but he could not control it. He could point to it, but he could not animate it.

Of course, we cannot have control of God’s Word. Of course, we cannot discover how to utter it to shape the world around us, because the Word is not a vowel or consonant that can resound from the mouth. God’s Word is not something to be spoke.  God's Word is someone. “And, the Word became flesh and lived among us.”

We cannot shape or control anything with our words, let alone God. But, we can let God in the flesh walk beside us. We cannot force God’s hand with words of demand, but we can ask and trust that God will do what God sees fit. You see, when God comes into the world, God will heap God’s grace wherever and on whomever God wants. We cannot control it. And, we certainly cannot tell God when to do it. All we can do is be a witness, like John, and point when God sends a beautiful young woman into your friend’s life who puts him back on track. All we can do is be a witness and point when God sends someone to gives food and shelter to the self-destructive. All we can do is be a witness and point when God heals the blind. And, perhaps, we will be called children of God, and be sent by God’s Word, Jesus Christ, to be the hands that feed the hungry or heal the hurt. But, notice our role is not one of demand or force. It is one of listening; listening carefully to Christ and following his word.

"It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made him known."

All Scripture quotes are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyrighted, 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and is used by permission. All rights reserved.

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