Sunday, December 30, 2007

No one has ever seen God...

We might envision the Solar System as a vast arena of bleak spaces, cold small stones separated by uncrosseable distances, held together only by the distant pull of a tiny dot of fire.

In his science-fiction novels, Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength, C. S. Lewis reimagines the Solar System as the Field of the Sun, a glorious cloth-of-gold dance-floor across which parade the celestial giants, whose rays illuminate its farthest reaches.

The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.

• In the beginning was the Word,

At the very beginning of all things, before anything was made, Christ already was.

• and the Word was with God,

Jesus is the second person of the Trinity; he is the face of God that we see.

• and the Word was God.

Christ and God are one.

• He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.

The Word – the logos – is the organizing principle through which all things come into being. This is he who redeems us. The one through whom we are made is the one through whom we are redeemed; the source of our creation is the source of our salvation.

• 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.

Dark as the world may appear, God is light: and this light surrounds us. We live in the light, we are children of the day.

• [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.

“The light which shone in Jesus, and which shines on as the name of Jesus is proclaimed throughout the world, is none other than the light of God himself, his first creation, the light that enlightens every human being.”—Lesslie Newbigin

• 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.

The logos, the Word, the Christ, the One through whom all things come into being, this of all things the organizing principle, yet became human. This is the organizing principle of the universe – what kind of organizing principle is it that becomes a BABY????

One that is very close to humanity.

One that is personal, and loves us.

One whose Spirit acting in us causes us to cry out to God like children, “Abba! Father!”

• God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" (Galatians 4:6)

• (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.

This divine presence, this Word that dwells among us, brings the overflowing abundance, the full being of God, into human life. No wonder he is alive! No wonder that to be near him is to become – to be called to be – fully alive.

• The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, compares the Law of Moses to a pedagogue, the slave responsible for accompanying young children to school.

• The law was our pedagogue until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. (Gal. 3:24)

The Law, in more modern terms, was like a schoolmaster or a teacher, or a big brother, or perhaps an au pair or a nanny, making sure a child got to school and learned its lessons.

But eventually you outgrow nannies – you don’t have someone dogging you or guiding you that closely. You make your own way to school. And you go on, into adult life.

• But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a pedagogue. (Gal. 3:25)

You grow up, and take responsibility for your own growth and development, your own learning. You put away childish things; you stand on your own feet.

Among the childish things you put away are the legalisms, the bad habits and false pieties, old patterns that hold you back from knowledge of the true and living God. They shielded you once from experiencing God more directly. Now they are as appetizing as baby food.

Puréed carrots. Strained beets.

It is time for something more grown up: nourishment for the adult soul.

How about some water, some oil, some bread and wine?

Grace and truth, mercy and faithfulness, come 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.

But how do you learn the ways of God? Nobody has ever seen him.

You learn by following Christ.

This Jesus, whom his friends knew, ate with, talked to and laughed with and wept with, this same Jesus whom Mary held close to her and nursed: this Jesus who was presented in the Temple, this Jesus was the Son of God.

And the Son has made God known, not as will and idea, principle or precept, but as living “Abba”, Father.

Through following Jesus we get to know the heart of God. And that heart is a heart of love. So in knowing Jesus, this one whom the shepherds watched as angels sang, we learn that the organizing principle at the heart of the universe is – love.

Love God, and love one another, as he has loved us. This is the heart of God.


The Lectionary Page

Oremus Bible Browser

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

New Proclamation, Year A, 2007-2008, Advent through Holy Week (Fortress Press, 2007)

Preaching Through the Christian Year, Year A (Trinity Press International, 1992)

Herbert O'Driscoll, The Word Today (Anglican Book Centre, 1998, 2001)

HarperCollins Study Bible, Rev. Ed. (HarperCollins, 2006)

Raymond E. Brown, S.S., Introduction to the New Testament (Yale, 1997)

Lesslie Newbigin, The Light Has Come (Eerdmans, 1982)


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