Thursday, December 27, 2007

St. John's Day

St. John the Evangelist

I found a rather marvelous sermon for the Feast of St. John the Evangelist on the web. An author is not explicitly mentioned but other sermons on the same page are by Ruth Eller. Here is an excerpt I found to be truly inspiring:
In a sense, the whole Gospel according to John is really an interpretation of the meaning and identity of Christ, rather than an account of the events of his life.

What was going on around him that John felt this need? Judging from the evidence in his Gospel, as well as what we know of the history of that time, it seems that some people were starting to say that Jesus wasn’t really human–not flesh and blood, like us, but some other kind of divine being who just looked human. Other people were saying that Jesus was only human, nothing special about him, and if you believed otherwise you were evil, and must be shunned.

John and his community had come to believe something different from both of those ideas. For them, Christ was an expression of God’s own self. He was the Logos–the Word which had existed from before time itself. The Word is the creative power of God. But in order to be expressed in the human language, the Word had to become fully human. Exactly like us in every way. Otherwise, how would we ever understand the nature of God in our own terms?

So what we have here is the beginning of Christian theology. To John, Christ is both human and divine. He doesn’t seem to care about the birth or childhood of Jesus. Instead, he goes back to the beginning–the beginning of everything: 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.

John is consciously echoing the first chapter of the Hebrew Bible: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. . . . That chapter, like the first chapter of John’s Gospel, lays the foundation of all that follows. The origin of everything–everything–is God. God created it all, including human beings, male and female made equally in the divine image. All of the stories that come after that must be interpreted in the light of that first chapter.

So it is with John’s Gospel. Bits of his book have often been used to make the case that only certain people are included in God’s kingdom. The obvious example is John 3:16–you know, For God so loved the world.. . . That verse can be interpreted to mean that if you don’t accept Jesus in a certain way, you are damned. But does that notion hold up to the testimony of the first chapter? What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people... All people.
All people. All people. What unutterable consolation is to be found in those two marvelous words. This is the witness of the John we honor today.

1 comment:

  1. This is an interesting insight into John's Gospel. I enjoyed it very much.

    By the way, you have a beautiful blog (came here from Mad Priest). And looking at your profile, we have a lot in common. I'm also an Episcopalian (that is, when I go to church) and pseudo-Buddhist. I also practice yoga and meditate. And I loved Dance of the Dissident Daughter. It was the first book I read during my first tentative steps toward Christianity. Anyway, thought I'd say hi.


New policy: Anonymous posts must be signed or they will be deleted. Pick a name, any name (it could be Paperclip or Doorknob), but identify yourself in some way. Thank you.