September 26, 2017
John 1:1-8 (NRSV)
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
Light, Word, Life, the Grounds of all Being, the Beginning.
All that ultimately is, the Source of all that is… John calls that God.
The opening of John calls back to the first line of the whole Bible…. that first verse of Genesis, with its “In the beginning.” John is writing what the rabbis call midrash. This is improvisational riffing on an ancient scripture, interrogating it, examining it, elucidating it, doing what the poet Billy Collins calls “holding it up to the light,” in his great poem on reading and poetry.
When John holds Genesis and creation and God up to the light, he sees Jesus. Or maybe it’s the other way around, the second paragraph says. John looks at Jesus and he sees light, life… everything.
We dive from the mysteries of the divine to a particular man, this second John. He’s nothing special – a witness, a dude who offers testimony for a moment. He’s not the light – that’s about to come. But I can’t help but think he’s a little bit aflame.
What does it mean for you to see all this – to, in that sense, be a witness?
How can you stop and “see the light” today?