Sermon: God With Us

John 1:1-9

The motto of the United Church of Christ is, “God is still speaking.” This is an affirmation that God is still revealing himself to the world, and that prophecy is not dead. Revelation is happening all around us and not the apocalyptic sort of Revelation the TV/Evangelical preachers would have you believe. All through the Advent Season, we heard prophecy after prophecy proclaiming the coming of the Messiah, and in the Gospel of Matthew, we read; “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). (Matthew 1:23) Matthew is quoting the great prophet Isaiah with his proclamation of the birth of Jesus. (Isaiah 7:14)

This morning we heard the words from the Prologue of St. John’s Gospel, “In the beginning was the Word.” John transports us back to the very moment of creation, that moment when God spoke the universe into being, and we learn that God was not alone. “In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was God.”

John continues to reveal that “He (the Word of God) was with God in the beginning. Through him, all things were made; without him, nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all humanity.” The universe was created through the Word, and without the Word, nothing was made. If you have your bibles with you, you will notice that “Word” is capitalized as if it were a name because the Word of God is a name, Jesus.

Back in the creation story, we read of humanities fall from grace. We read that there was a time when God walked in, and with his creation, God physically walked with humanity. But God did not control humanity, for God gave humanity free will. Humanity fell from grace, and a consequence of that fall was that God would no longer walk with his creation. A separation was thus created by humanity itself between the creator and creation.

This is an important point; the rift between God and humanity was created by humanity itself. Humanity chose to create this rift; it was not the doing of God. Humanity was and is in control of its destiny because of the free will that God has given us. Although we like to think of it this way, God is not in control, for if God were in control, then God would not only be in control when the good stuff happens, but God would also be in control of the bad stuff.

Believing, for example, that God is in control of the pandemic, and therefore I do not need to get vaccinated is to say that God is in control and simply sits back, and hundreds of thousands of the very creation God loves is killed. This sort of belief makes God out to be some sort of sadistic mad man who has the power to stop death and destruction but sits on the sidelines and watches and does nothing. No, my friends, God is not in control; humanity is in control and is not doing a very good job of it.

God sent messengers to creation in an attempt to reconcile, but those attempts failed. If we can put human emotions on to God, we would say that God was filled with grief at this separation that humanity had created, and God needed a way to make it better.

In the 3rd chapter of this same Gospel, we read about God’s solution, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) This very verse harkens back to what John says at the very start of his Gospel, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14) The Word of God, who was present “in the beginning,” has become flesh and dwells among us. The baby that we celebrate being born in Bethlehem is the very Word of God.

Think about the magnitude of what we have just said. God loved his creation so much that God took on our humanity; scripture tells us that God lowered himself to take on our humanity; the creator becomes his creation to show us the way, the path to new life. Yet, we still have the free will to choose. God does not force anyone, nor should we, to believe or to follow this new way. Through the person of Jesus Christ, who is the Word of God, God presents this way, and we have to decide if we will follow or not.

The rift between God and humanity was repaired when “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

A few moments ago, I mentioned the motto, “God is still speaking,” and I believe that to be true. God reveals himself continuously, and our job is to look for that revelation. And how do we know if this revelation is true or not? We can refer to the way that his son left us.

Jesus, the Word of God, showed us the path to new life. That path includes not only loving God the creator but also loving all of God’s creation. We are to care for one another and be concerned for one another. We are to love one another as family, as we would want to be loved. We are to care for one another as we would want to be cared for. We are not to use people or creation for our own ends and means but to help each other live to our fullest potential. God emptied himself and took on our humanity, not for his own self, but so we, God’s creation, could become a better version of ourselves.

The logo or symbol that goes along with that motto is the comma. In writing, the writer uses the comma to separate ideas and indicates a pause as if to say, hold on, I am not quite finished with my thought yet. God uses the comma because God is not finished with us yet, revelation has not been completed, and there is more to come.

In a few moments, we will gather, albeit virtually, around this table of communion. Rev. Wendy and I will repeat the words that have been spoken by ministers before us for generations. These are not magic words, but they still have power, power to transform through the Holy Spirit, and God once again becomes present with us in a very real way. We will virtually approach this table and once again walk with God, but it is a choice that we have to make.

None of us are perfect. We all have doubts, and we have all fallen short. But none of that matters because this morning, God is inviting us to once again walk with him in a very real way. God loves us, all of us, so much that he was willing to come here and show us the way, not just 2,000 years ago but right here, right now.

In the beginning, was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him, all things were made; without him, nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all humanity. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us!


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