(designed to be read by two voices—neither of them me, since I'm sick and can barely get a sentence out without coughing my germs on everyone around me)
Rev. Teri Peterson
living it up
3 January 2010, Christmas 2C/EpiphanyC
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.
In the beginning was the Word…
…a still small voice, whispering over the formless void that would become earth. A still small voice, a word barely spoken, not yet written. A still small voice, a word, a breath, a dream, a hope: Let There Be Light.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
…a Word on God’s lips, the essence of God’s being, expressed in a whisper, a sentence, a paragraph, a book...and yet cannot be contained in a sentence or a book. This Word is more than our words, more than millions of our words, more than any word can express—this Word IS God. The heart of who God is, we find in a Word. More than the word “The Trinity”, the Word and Spirit and Creativity of God lived, and lives, in a shared story, a sentence spoken between friends or enemies, a poem read, a sermon preached, a life lived, good news shared. The Word became millions of words, but all those words cannot contain the Word that is God.
All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.
…a word unwhispered, a dream unexpressed, a passing thought—they are nothing. A word spoken, a hope whispered, a vision shared—they come into being through God’s breath, God’s very self, God’s own voice. Without God’s voice, without the Word straight from God’s heart: not one thing can come into being.
What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.
…He came that we might have life, and have it abundantly. In the beginning, when God created, God breathed God’s very own breath, God’s very own Spirit, into our lifeless body. God puts God’s very own words into our speechless mouths. God shines God’s very own light through our dark eyes. More than just alive, not just the living word, but Life Itself! Abundant Life. Enough for all people. Life—Abundant Life—born through a whisper, through a shout, through tears and through laughter, through pain and through joy—born in a way we never thought to expect, to people we never dreamed would be good enough. Life Abundant—for all people.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
…Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.
…Hunger. Poverty. Violence. Fear. Hate. Hopelessness. Grief. Darkness.
The light shines in the darkness. But the light does not banish the darkness away, not yet. Light dances, light flickers, light waxes and wanes, but still the darkness coexists with the light. The darkness does not overcome the light, it’s true. But light does not completely overcome darkness, either. Shadows also dance, following us wherever we go. The shadowed valleys may be long, and very dark, and very cold. We still have to walk through these valleys, we still have to confront the shadows, we still have to squint in the dim light…but there is light. Light comes again into our darkness, shining all around, and darkness, however dark it may be, will never overcome it. And one day, light will overcome.
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.
…A voice crying out in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord—make his paths straight! And John said: I am not the Messiah, I have been sent ahead of him. He must increase, and I must decrease.
There are few things so difficult as to remember I am not the light. It is not through my strength, my will, my talent, my words, that light comes to the world. We are here to testify to the light. Our lives bear witness to one greater than ourselves, our words and our actions show forth a light that is not of our own making, our relationships and interactions with others give glory to God. What would it be like if our testimony, our witness, was always grounded in the reminder that He must increase, and I must decrease? What would our world be like if we reminded ourselves every day that we did not make the light, and we do not sustain the light—we let the light shine through us?
And the Word became flesh and lived among us…
…not just words, millions of words tumbling off pages and running across screens, explaining, justifying, informing, arguing, telling, amusing…not just words. The Word became a human being, one of us. The Word—God’s own self, God’s whispered dreams and shouted prayers, God’s breathy love—became flesh and lived among us. The Word is in the world, loose, dancing and twirling and begging and hoping and breathing and living—Life Itself, the Word, God’s love—right here. Out there. Where we least expect it. Where we most expect it. Words can’t be contained—once they’re out of your mouth or finished flowing from my pen, they are loose in the world, spreading like wildfire, running like rumors, rushing about from place to place, from ear to mouth to hand to eye. The Word is loose, breathing its good news in every place, and living with us, teaching us, helping us breathe words of grace upon grace, good news of great joy for all people.
May it be so.