“Speak Lord, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10).
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.
It was a frosty Christmas and New Year and I was in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of northern New Mexico. One night I looked out and was silenced by the sheer immensity of Wheeler and Pueblo Peaks crowned with starlight and snow. Finally, I was able to turn my gaze from the mountains to the Milky Way spilled out across the sky. I was stunned! More stars than grains of sand on the planet! I wanted to pray, but couldn’t. Overwhelmed by the Presence, I had no words.
I was left wondering what God must be like! What must God be like to create and hold together such an incomprehensible universe! What must He be like to make Himself small and lie helpless in a manger gawked at by barnyard animals and shepherds! I think I must have felt the cosmic vertigo Martin Luther felt: “The mystery of the humanity of Christ, that He sunk Himself into our flesh, is beyond all human understanding.” (Martin Luther, Martin Luther’s Table Talk)
The Gospel of John opens with the incredible, astonishing news that the man Jesus, born in Bethlehem of a poor peasant virgin, is the God of heaven and earth! He is the Creator become the creature, the life-giving, light-giving Word stooping down to us in human form. He is the one answer to the philosophers’ fundamental question, “Why is there not nothing?” It is because “In the beginning was the Word“¦All things came into being through Him.”
The Gospels of Matthew and Luke open with stories of Jesus’ birth; Mark opens with stories of Jesus’ baptism. But John takes us back farther, into the mists of eternity past when the Word was “close to the Father’s heart” (John 1:18). In John’s Gospel we stand at the beginning of all beginnings and discover that beyond the boundaries of time, Jesus the Word was there. Before there were any Milky Way galaxies or snowy mountain peaks, Jesus was sharing eternity with God the Father. He is that Child of whom Isaiah prophesied: “For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
The universe begins not with a random, purposeless bang of energy, but with the overabundance of God’s love wanting sons and daughters to forever share His life and glory (John 1:12). The Gospel of John opens alluding to the first words of the Bible: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). John wants us to think of God’s astonishing first creation and to understand that Jesus the Word has come to accomplish God’s new creation of us. If we are stunned at the wonder and beauty of God’s first creation, how much more will we be when beholding the completion of God’s new creation of us! It is as the apostle Paul wrote: “if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
In John’s first letter to Christians he marvels at God’s purposeful, creative love for them: “Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). The Son of God became like us that we might be like Him. We are His new creation!
In the beginning the Word spoke and created ex nihilo, “out of nothing”, the astonishing universe. But the greater wonder is the Word speaking and creating, ex nihilo, sons and daughters of God.
- What stirs within me today as I look out on God’s wondrous creation?
- What stirs within me as I think about God making me His new creation?
PALMS DOWN/PALMS UP
For a moment hold your PALMS DOWN in a symbolic gesture of letting go to God your worries for the day, the busyness of the season, and expectations of the way the holidays ought to be. Release all of these concerns to God.
Next, hold your PALMS UP as a symbolic gesture of receiving God’s gifts, provision, and guidance for today.