I come to
preach on the birth of Jesus from the Gospel of John, but it is
not the birth narrative we are used to. There are no
distractions or questions about the season, time, place. There
is no angel visitation and we do not have to question Mary’s
sexual and social status. John’s birth story is spiritual.
What is important is to recognize that the birth of Jesus is the
total embodiment of the Divine in humanity. And to be in awe of
the outcome of our desire to be connected to God and God’s
eternal and unconditional love, joy and connection to creation.
Not just in the life of Jesus but in all the living things.
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.
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.
10 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.
14 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.
is more poetry than prose and takes us, in 13 verses, on a
journey with God through time, through history, through the
universe really – starting at: the beginning.
reading of the text this week was with my critical eye, socially
aware, suspicious 21st century ME: I was so distracted by the
use of the pronoun HE. I was so focused on HE…I set up an
me/them duality by making John’s community an “other” – someone
who doesn’t understand me – who knows less than me. It was more
curiosity, not angry, but seriously Beyond that “he”, I was not
open to much more of a message. But I wanted to understand
so I sought out to answer, what does HE mean? Why HE? Is He
beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word
was God. Word here does not mean spoken words, language, but
the word in Greek is Logos and Logos is universal divine reason
– an eternal and unchanging truth that is available to all who
seek it. In all things yet transcending all things. So, n the
beginning was a divine connection There is no “He” – “It” is
then a more fitting pronoun in these first five verses. All
things come from and are divine. It is our source of life – and
is our light.
here to testify to this Light of God.
until verse 9 the it becomes more of a he.
light was coming into the world. He was in the world but the
world did not recognize him.
Yes this is a
foreshadowing of the still more specific light yet revealed,
named Jesus. - But still there is a universal connection point
here - because the life –light/LOGOS was already in the world,
we just didn’t know it. We do not recognize it, are not aware
of it, and more to the point today, we have been trained somehow
NOT to trust it, to ignore it. But it’s there. Available to
all who look for it. The final verses take the prologue to its
specific conclusion - the word/Logos/Divine Connection becomes
flesh - his name is Jesus. By following his example, we can
find life-light within ourselves, and the life-light in others.
testified to the light in his day to help his community stay
strong, encouraged them in a time of great stress and doubt,
encouraged have faith in themselves, in one another, and in
God. It’s saying Your faith, your following Jesus, putting your
trust in the life-light, makes you strong and fills you with the
Our work is John’s work: to
testify – or for the less evangelically inclined – to share that
light with others that they might access it in themselves. Our
faith is what makes us strong.
Well slap my
hand and shut my mouth.
Nominee Rick Perry had the same message for America this week!
I take a
break from my sermon writing to read the headlines, check the
Facebook. Oh, what’s this?, click.
ashamed to admit I’m a Christian,” he begins. Ok but what does
that mean? In just 60 seconds I believe he offended just about
everyone. Except his obvious supporters of course. Shock is
the best word for my reaction. “There is something wrong in
our country – Christianity is under attack – from a number of
sources – we must fight back. There it was, right at the end,
“Our Faith is what makes America strong…”
“Blinded by the Light”…may have been heard at that moment . It
could have been the music lessons upstairs. Can’t be certain.
I watched it
another 5-6 times right away because I was scared frankly – we
have the same message? What I felt next is sadness - He not
only alienated the gay community, the military community but the
The good news that came out of
that 60 second stomachache was the outpouring of response –
people I didn’t even know were Christians came out of the
closet, so to speak, to defend their friends, family members,
equal rights, their faith. But not just Christians defending
Christians but people of all faiths came in support of their
Christian friends. Each in their own words shared what they
understand in Jesus’ message: that we are not to blind someone
with our light, point our light threateningly at others, make
others feel less valuable than ourselves with our light. But to
radiate the light that we believe exists in all things, that we
might inspire hope in others.
gives me hope too. This is a belief that I share with Governor
Perry. Jesus points me to the light. But from there we part
ways. Because to him there is no other light in this world but
the light of Jesus. And I can’t say that John’s community
didn’t see it that way – I can’t testify to that – but what I
can testify to is how the lights of the menorah, the lights of
Diwali - these are sources of the life-light too. And Not one
visualization works for all people! I believe The Logos is in
God wants me to expand my worldview, to see the person
before me, the person who doesn’t understand me, the person who
is everything I am not, has everything we do not, as ally, as
brother, as a sister. I have some serious work ahead of me in
order to do that. It was at least 5 viewings before I found
gratitude and peace with the experience. I simply thanked God
for the ad running on Thursday so I had time to finish my
sermon! See! More Good news!
I did! I thanked god and then I
acknowledged my unpreparedness to work with and not against and
ask for help from God. Because I want that LOGOS rooted deeply
in me. I want To live and love extravagantly, recognizing there
is no other, and that all have the life-light. It’s difficult
to do, but no one said it would be easy.
You know what else has shocked
me? With each passing day, the Occupy movement becomes more
inspiring to me. I am less skeptical.
It started with the students and
the viral 24 hour news feed of students getting pepper sprayed –
I thought then, what is going on? You know working at UCSC, the
students are always prepared for protest. For the unions,
inequalities on campus, protesting the war, ready to go. I
figured it would pass.
Then it was the Port of Oakland
shut down and the clergy of Oakland rising to the occasion – to
be present for people, to keep peace. And I watched a young
veteran was hit with a can of gas and being critically injured.
And then the Leave the Bank day. And people asked, what is
their purpose? Do they just want to take down the banks? Who
are they to…
But now, its December. People are
still sleeping outside. In solidarity with those who do not
have a choice in the matter, with hope that their witness will
cause the rest of us to wake up, I am amazed – to me they are a
shining bright beacon of Christ’s light. It’s expansive – it’s
for everyone – and though it may have started out as 99% and 1%,
there is something deeper, spiritual, and grounded now coming
from the occupy voices of
Vancouver, New York, Oakland, Eugene.
Still we ask what is your
purpose? Who are you to tell us what we need to be…
Well Who am I
to stand up here and talk about the Light? Who is Rick Perry
We need to ask these questions of ourselves and acknowledge that
these are the same questions that occupy asks us: Who are you?
What will you stand for?
There are so
many occupy videos – but I want to point you to one – we won’t
watch it today – watch it when you go home – It’s called The
Revolution is Love, please go Google it. Or the search
engine of choice, no judgments.
interviewed in occupy videos are just people. Some are clergy,
some comedians, musicians, politicians, whoever – people. An
economist speaks in The Revolution is Love, and Charles
Eisenstein says "This movement isn't about the 99% defeating or
toppling the 1%. You know the next chapter of that story, which
is that the 99% create a new 1%. That's not what it's
about. What we want to create is the more beautiful world our
hearts tell us is possible. A sacred world. A world that works
for everybody. A world that is healing. A world of peace. Allow
me to continue. “An economist says 'more for you is less for
me.' But the lover knows that more of you is more for me too. If
you love somebody their happiness is your happiness. Their pain
is your pain. Your sense of self expands to include other
beings. This shift of consciousness is universal in everybody,
99% and 1%."
This is a
message dated November 18, 2011 but it is a message I know we
have heard before. I believe that message is rooted deeply in
the life light of God.
There is no
other, friends. We all share the life light. That is what I
understand when I read John 1. And in the voice of the youth of
America, 2 young women, sisters, had this message for America
we're straight, we're black, we're white,
we're rich, we're poor, we're conservative, we're liberal,
we're Christian, we're not...and Jesus loves the little
All the children of the world.
strive to love you all extravagantly...
the way that Jesus loved.
we celebrate the birth of a new way to be in the world.
Divinely connected and full of Love.
us work together to Light the way.