Word of God – December 30, 2018
Let us come together in prayer. Lord Jesus we are blessed by your coming into our world and by helping us to know that we are eternally loved by you. Remind us to be grateful for this gathering of fellowship and open our hearts as to what we are meant to learn together. Amen.
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…and the Word became flesh and lived among us.
The words in today’s Gospel of John remind me of beautiful poetry and remarkable artwork. It specifically reminds me of Van Gogh’s painting known as Starry Night. (Show copy of painting to audience.)
Van Gogh creates a swirling, melting sky filled with blue, yellow, white, black. At first glance, these objects seem separate from each other but on closer inspection THE SKY IS ONE. The brush strokes sweep the stars and the moon and the sky into a large and glorious unified vision. Many people are still in awe and are simply breath taken when they see the actual painting, wondering how Van Gogh created this. Every time I see this painting I immediately think of the greatness, the vastness, and the mystery of God.
In the Gospel of John we are faced with a beautiful mystery. Jesus is the Word of God. The Word made flesh. At a distance, Jesus seems separate, a historic remarkable human leader, but he is not this simple label. As we look closer, we see Jesus is one with God. Both Divine and Human. He transcends even time. He was born into this world during a certain period of time and yet He as Word of God always existed. How can this be? How is this possible? Our early apostolic fathers had no idea about the space-time continuum in which Einstein points out that time is an illusion. What we consider to be events happening now is not entirely relative to another event happening somewhere else in this world or somewhere else in our universe. There are many things in this world we still struggle to comprehend, trying to understand how Jesus is the Word of God is another concept we will continue to ponder and pray about.
Saint Augustine was known for pondering part of this very mystery. Saint Augustine was a very intelligent and powerful leader, a bishop of a region in North Africa. His writings, such as “The Confessions,” are remarkable. I grew up knowing Saint Augustine through my own father who would tell me tales of the saints. When I was still an adolescent in Catholic school, I asked my father how was Jesus the Word of God, how can he be the Word made flesh, and how is he one with God? He told me of Augustine’s legendary encounter with an angel while the saint was contemplating the Holy Trinity.
One day Saint Augustine was walking on the beach contemplating how can the Father be one with the Son? Just then he saw a small child. He stopped to observe the child. The child was running back and forth from the water to a spot on the beach. He was using some kind of sea shell, carrying the ocean water and pouring it into a hole in the sand that he had dug up. Saint Augustine approached him, possibly rather amused, and asked him, “My child what are you doing?” “Oh!” said the little boy, “You see I am trying to pour the whole ocean into my hole!” The boy pointed to a small, insignificant opening in the ground. I imagine Saint Augustine must have laughed at this boy’s silly idea. Saint Augustine replied, “My dear child how can you possibly think and imagine that the whole ocean can fit into this small hole!” The boy looked at Saint Augustine and replied, “It is no more possible than what you are trying to do—comprehend the immensity of the mystery of the Holy Trinity with your small mind!” The Saint was stunned by the child’s answer and fell deep into thought. When he looked up he no longer saw the child. To this day the child is deemed as an angel from God. Just as Saint Augustine, we may never know the mystery of how Jesus is one with God and God’s Word made flesh.
And so on this day, I ask that we try and understand God with our hearts a little more than our minds. Jesus is God’s Living Word, He is One with God. My heart tells me that this means that God wants to be in relationship with me, with us. He wants to talk to us, teach us, hold us, heal us, break bread with us, and even save us. His life given is the light of all people. God’s divinity comes into humanity OUT OF LOVE. The Heart of God is truly revealed to us. He knows His people need Him. His Word must go into the world and teach us how to love again, how to love ourselves and how to love one another. And I can’t imagine a better way to learn this than through Jesus Christ, our God, our Word made Flesh, our Light.
Lord, Jesus, God of all, we thank you for bringing us salvation. We pray that we may continue to live in this world knowing you are with us, guiding us, and loving us through all time. Amen.