Season 8 - Week 6
“God is hidden no more”
I don’t think I could ever get tired of hearing or reading the birth narratives of Jesus! It is the ultimate disruption to life as we know it: the unimaginable plot twist.
I love the Lucan drama of the trek to Bethlehem, the no room for Mary and Joseph, the shepherds being accosted by the angels with their holy proclamation. Then there’s the mysterious Magi and their very belated entrance into the story as told by Matthew, guided to Bethlehem not so much by a star but by the Word as read to Herod by, of all people, the chief priests and teachers of the law.
Whilst Matthew and Luke have contributed significantly to everyone’s script and version of Christmas, it’s John’s account of this amazing birth that that never fails to ‘blow my mind’ and stir my heart. Not for John the detail of location and visitation – no angels, sheep, innkeepers, mangers and swaddling clothes, shepherds or wise men. Not even Mary and Joseph get a look in John’s gospel because he is explaining the Christmas story, the incarnation, from a completely different viewpoint.
This is the Christmas story as a cosmic disruption.
In fourteen short verses John manages to not only outline the greatest event in all history but to do so from a God perspective and in so doing is able to explain who Jesus truly is and what difference his coming into the world makes for you and me.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The Word? What on earth is that? It is perhaps easiest to understand that we use words as one of the best ways to express ourselves – it’s exactly what I am doing as I write this reflection for you to read. Words are gathered up to communicate what I am feeling and sensing. The JB Philips translation of John 1 begins, “At the beginning God expressed himself. That personal expression, that word, was with God, and was God, and he existed with God from the beginning.” John reveals in verse 14 that the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us or as The Message paraphrase shaped it, ‘The Word became flesh and moved into the neighbourhood.’ Absolutely awesome!
Father God is one who makes himself known, he expresses himself and miracles of miracles in this expression is life itself – giving light to all mankind. Sadly we know that some did not receive him, but thank God, to those who did receive him he gave the right, the power, to become children born of God! That’s ordinary people like you and me drawn into the centre of the drama of the coming to earth of the King of Kings, Messiah, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
As General John Gowans of The Salvation Army famously penned:
‘God is hidden no more, he has spoken his mind,
wrapped the gift of his love in the stuff of mankind.
Now his nature is known, God is love undefiled
and his love is revealed in the face of a child.’
Who can get tired of hearing that?
The Word was first,
the Word present to God,
God present to the Word.
The Word was God,
in readiness for God from day one.
Everything was created through him;
nothing—not one thing!—
came into being without him.
What came into existence was Life,
and the Life was Light to live by.
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
the darkness couldn’t put it out.
There once was a man, his name John, sent by God to point out the way to the Life-Light. He came to show everyone where to look, who to believe in. John was not himself the Light; he was there to show the way to the Light.
The Life-Light was the real thing:
Every person entering Life
he brings into Light.
He was in the world,
the world was there through him,
and yet the world didn’t even notice.
He came to his own people,
but they didn’t want him.
But whoever did want him,
who believed he was who he claimed
and would do what he said,
He made to be their true selves,
their child-of-God selves.
These are the God-begotten,
The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
the one-of-a-kind glory,
like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
true from start to finish.
This passage from John contains a beautiful promise - the light shines, it still shines, and the darkness cannot overcome it. Think of the situations in your own context where you need to hold onto the promise that the light will not be overcome. Bring them before God and pray this verse over them.
Think back over the reflections from this season of Open Me, and all the ways that Jesus confronted and disrupted people's expectatioons of God - what He is like, what He cares about, what His justice looks and feels like, how His love expresses itself. What has stayed with you? Could you take that with you in 2019, and pray that God would show you how to be a holy disruption in your context - not difficult for the sake of it, but holding fast to what is right despite the expectations of others around you.