Jesus the Word!

Jesus the Word!

Jeremiah 31:7-14
Psalm 147:12-20
Ephesians 1:3-14
John 1:1-18

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1

Saviour of the world, in the birth of your Son you reveal yourself as Word made flesh; grant us your grace that we may live as your children, certain in the knowledge that we are loved beyond measure, and called to be willing to share that love. Through Jesus Christ our Liberator, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

Gospel: John 1: 1-18
The Word Became Flesh
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9The 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. 11He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13who 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. 15(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.”) 16From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.

Tena koutou katoa e te whanau o Te Wairua Tapu.

Welcome to 2021. So begins another chapter in our lives. New challenges, new goals, new expectations and new mysteries yet to unfold in our lives. What has happened in our lives in 2020 is done and can never be undone. 

We begin the year with the words from John’s Gospel, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” This is where John’s gospel begins–in the beginning. This is John’s Christmas story; no shepherds, no angels nor a baby lying in a manger. In this Christmas story, John takes us back to the beginning. He echoes the words from the book of Genesis: In the beginning God created; God moved over the chaos and darkness and said, “Let there be light.” In John’s gospel, from the very beginning was the Word. The God who moved over the face of the deep, over the darkness, who spoke and said “let there be light,” this same God who was from the beginning and spoke that Word, is the same God who became flesh and blood and dwelt among us. John says, “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.”

The God who takes on our flesh doesn’t ignore the darkness but shines in the very midst of it.

Christmas is all about being with whanau, spending time with the ones we love, enjoying the exchange of gifts, talking with each other, telling stories about the past and sharing a meal around the dinner table. But I am sure this Christmas has been different for many of us. Early on Christmas morning a young man, a father of one, lost his life in a tragic accident in Auckland. He lived with us for a short period of time. His family are totally heart-broken and our aroha goes out to them as they mourn his loss. No words can ever fill the pain and void when we lose a loved one. Covid19 has also changed the circumstances for those of us living in Sydney. Whanau visiting your home went from 10 to 5. Those who planned to travel had to change those plans. Those that travelled, some may have reached their destinations to spend time with their whanau, some may have been blocked at state borders and told to go back to Sydney. And now, all borders are closed, everyone has to spend two weeks in quarantine and face masks need to be worn. I am certain, many will be glad to have this Christmas over and done with.

However, with all the things that life throws at us, even as we enter 2021, we are reminded, and called back to where our center is to be located. Where our hearts belong, and that is to celebrate the mystery of God becoming flesh and blood and to joyously receive the coming of Christ among us, the Word made flesh, the Word that gives life and breath and hope to us all. The light that shines in the darkness.

Christmas is about God who comes near and becomes real to us.  Sometimes we do talk about God being mysterious and unknowable, beyond comprehension–which is true–but here in this celebration, God the Creator takes on flesh, our flesh, and becomes one of us and lives among us.  In the midst of our darkness, in the midst of the chaos of our lives, Jesus comes announcing life and not death.  Later in John’s gospel, we will hear Jesus say, “I come that you may have life and have it abundantly.” Jesus’ way is the way of God, the way of life.  He is that Word spoken in the midst of our chaos and darkness and creates life where everything may seem impossible.  And in and through Jesus, we are shown how we are meant to be, full of life, full of hope, full of joy–that even as God has poured upon us the new light of God’s living Word, we are to allow this light to shine forth in our lives, no matter what.

The real struggle with Christmas is not if there are to be Christmas trees or fireworks or if we spent more money than we should have; the real struggle for the soul of Christmas is allowing Jesus, the “Word made flesh,” “God made flesh,” to be genuinely enbedded in us, in our hearts and minds and hands, enbedded in our relationships and in our care for those who mourn, for the sick, for the stranger, for the jobless, for the homeless and for those in any need or trouble.

God the Creator, who created the earth and the universe and saw that it was good, continues to create. Creation continues and the creator remains active, always seeking the best for all people, desiring that we may truly live. And today we continue to celebrate that creative living Word, becoming a human being.

As we begin a new year and all that pulls and tugs on our hearts, may we remember the good gifts that God has given us, the sun and the moon, this good earth with all its blessings of sky and water, plants and animals, this incredible gift of life, of flesh and blood, of breath and memory, this day, this moment, and all those people in our lives, both joy and sorrow, and all that it means for us to be fully human and fully alive. And, above all, may we remember the gift of the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ, sent to save us, to heal us, to bring us joy, to bring us back to God’s own self. 

Let us pray:
Almighty God, you have poured upon us the new light of your incarnate Word: Grant that this light, enkindled in our hearts, may shine forth in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Archdeacon Kaio Karipa

The Venerable Kaio Karipa
Sydney Maori Anglican Fellowship Church of Te Wairua Tapu