January 3, 2021
Our live-streamed worship service can be found: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5eiBCTDS00&t=1424s
Follow along with the bulletin & hymn sheet:
This first Sunday of the New Year, we are celebrating the end of Christmastide and the beginning of Epiphany. Our Gospel lesson is a well-known and theologically rich passage that speaks to the theme of darkness and light. May the Spirit bless our reading of the Word:
- John begins his gospel by intentionally evoking Genesis and creation. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.” In Genesis 1, God does indeed create with a word: “Then God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light” (verse 3). Words create worlds; words, both written and spoken, shape our reality and allow us to express our emotions and experiences to one another. Consider how many words you use in conversation every day! What words will you use today to create good in the world? What will you say to lift someone up? What poetry or story could you share with someone else?
- John cares deeply about the Word and the words spoken about him. John the Baptizer is identified early in this text as a witness who testifies. In verse 29 of this chapter we hear John say of Jesus, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” How many different words are used to describe Jesus in this passage (Word, Life, Light, only begotten, Christ, Lamb, Son of God)? Why are witnesses important in our faith? What words would you use in a testimony about who Jesus is to you?
- John’s gospel is full of light and darkness imagery. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it” (verse 5). In many ways, last year was a ‘dark’ one – difficult for so many people in different ways. What hope does this verse give you? Why is the darkness sometimes necessary to see the light shining? What dark places have you seen Christ come into?
- John captures some of the mystery of the incarnation by moving from deeply theological and poetic language to more concrete terms. “The Word became flesh and lived among us.” In Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase The Message he says, “the Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.” In the Christmas season, we are often asked to look for Christ’s presence in tangible, incarnate ways. How have you encountered Jesus ‘in the neighborhood’ lately? How have you “received” (verse 12) and welcomed him?
I pray that God’s face will shine on you in this New Year! I believe that there are bright days ahead!
Grace and Peace,
Pastor Maggie Rust