the one about 'in the beginning....'
January 5, 2016, 1:01 PM

Sermon from January 3, 2016

Text: John 1: 1-18

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus who is the Christ – will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord our rock and our redeemer; amen!

It’s always weird when we get to a new year isn’t it? We reminisce on the past on what we have accomplished, what we weren’t able to do, the new relationships we’ve formed, the relationships that have gone away, the new things we love and those things we cannot believe we even paid attention to!

A new year brings to us the promise of what is fresh, the possibility that anything can be achieved, the thought that ‘this year will be different or better’ in any of the ways that we wish and hope.

A new year is all of those things and I love the positivity that the prospect of a new year generally brings.

Of course, there are those that might say that this new year will be ‘worse’ than the one before. That it’ll be the warmest or the coldest year ever. It’ll be another year where we move deeper and deeper into the moral abyss.

We are at a new beginning.

I love that on this first Sunday of the new year we get to read from one of my favorite Gospel passages – this beautiful prologue and poem that opens John’s gospel. This gospel that starts with… In the beginning… the phrase that immediately conjures up in our minds another ‘beginning’ within our scripture – that start to Genesis the story of Creation.

In the beginning…

This new year – a year with so many different ways that it can play out a new year that we remember will be different from the last one and the one to come next, but as the year unfolds for each of us there are those things that will remain constant.

That’s what I love about the beginning of John’s gospel. Here the writer is bringing to his audience – to each of us – the beginning of something new. That God is about to do something that has never been done. That God is coming to be with us as Immanuel.

The past few weeks we’ve celebrated that in-breaking into the world in Jesus’ birth. We’ve gathered here and we’ve sung hymns, we’ve heard of those promises of old, we’ve come together to give praise to this new birth – this new thing that God is doing.

We’ve seen the new burst into the world and yet through it all we’ve been reminded of the ‘old’ that is still there. Not the old as in the sense that we are ‘replacing’ something. The old that is stale and decrepit that you just can’t wait to ‘get rid of’ in some way. No, that is not the ‘old’ that we see spoken about here, but instead we see and hear of the ‘old’ in the sense that the one who is putting this together has always been here – has always been present.

The one that was and is the beginning is still at work. That the Word that God has spoken is still active and alive. That the first light that shines through the darkness – and is never and will never be overcome by that darkness – is still shining brightly.

The stories of old are still true. The stories we’ve grown up with are all real. The God that we’ve prayed to is still here and is still at work in, among, and around us.

Yet, things are a little different; as any new beginning is. Yet, God is still here as God as always been, but how God is here is what is different.

It isn’t that we’ve changed or been changed. It isn’t that we’ve made resolutions so that we would be more acceptable for God to be with us – resolutions that we know we’ll break or steer from. Resolutions that end up being more about ‘us’ than they are about others.

No, this ‘different’ isn’t because we’ve changed in some way that makes God want to be with us.

The ‘different’ is how God comes to be with us. That God continues to live into the love that God has for all of creation – for each and every one of us – but, has decided to make a change in how that love is shown. It isn’t just words on a page, or the voice of one conveying God’s call to us. It isn’t just rainbows in the sky. It isn’t just rules written on stone. It isn’t just a temple where God can be found in the Holy City.

No – this difference – this new way of God showing that ‘old’ and familiar love that is the Word – the word that has always been there – the Word that has come and be among us. This Word that is made flesh and blood in the person of Jesus – God’s own son – to live among and is us. To laugh and cry with us. To be in joy and pain with us. This Word that has become flesh to live life with and for us. That is what the ‘new’ is as we celebrate it today.

This new beginning that we begin is filled with the familiar. The familiar that we are loved and cared for, that we are fed and forgiven, that we are lifted up and sent into the world to proclaim God’s love.

In John’s prologue – in the beginning – we are comforted by the familiarity of the ‘old’ of God’s love for us, but we are seeing that love lived out in a new way for the world.

It is in this new way that God has come to be with us that we are changed. We are changed because of the gift that God has given us. The response that we give – the response to God’s love – bursts from us so that we too are caught up in that light that has been there – that has been here – from the beginning.

The light that shines in the darkness. The light that reminds us that we are loved. The light that shines in its reminder that we are not alone.

We come to worship this morning, we begin this new year and the words we are comforted by – the words that we read in the Gospel of John – are words that are very familiar.

The familiar words that point us to the new and how God is at work in us, in this community, in this world. The word that has always been there.

We begin this new year as we remember…. “In the beginning…” Amen.

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