THE WORD WAS BROKEN!
Read: John 1: 1-14
The first Word was spoken;
then the Word was written;
before he Word was broken
for a story to be told…
In the beginning the Word was spoken and it was heard by the Spirit and light appeared in the darkness to reveal something good in the chaos and confusion. The spoken Word became story and poem to be remembered and retold or captured in song.
The Word was spoken and people said it was God they heard so religions were created that became expressions of faith in which people believed.
As the Word was spoken the meaning evolved and changed like whispers passing from person to person. People believed what they heard, but what they heard was different from person to person. It was understood in the context of language and culture in which the Spirit moved as each generation believed what they heard.
Then the Word became pictures through which stories could be seen carved into rock or painted on walls then shaped into letters that could be written on paper and read by the people..
So the Word that was spoken in the beginning became a Word that was written on paper and carved into stone so the stories once told could be stories to read — but what people believed had lost some of its meaning in the whispers they heard. God’s message was lost in translation!
In the beginning was the Word, spoken by God, in the image of God, but the people had not understood it when it was spoken, or recognise it when it was written, on stone or on paper. Yet, God loved the world too much to give up on his children so delivered his message in new way.
The Word was written into a human heart that came as flesh and bones to live among us so people could know the truth and find their way to new life. (John 14: 6) Jesus became our story to hear, our book to read with God’s message fulfilled in flesh and bones not wood and stones of religious buildings.
Jesus didn’t come to change the Word spoken in the beginning, or to condemn what the Prophets had said in the past, but to fulfil what God always intended and had been lost in the whispered translation. Jesus IS the Word through which we will know the will of our Father who wants us to be as one through our love for each other — but we don’t understand it so we give it OUR own meaning. Gods message is lost in translation!
My past experience as a journalist reminds me how what is said by one person can be delivered as a very different story to others. I could submit a story after interviewing someone and a simple deletion of a few words can create a headline that people will rush to read.
I imagine interviewing Jesus and quoting him in my story as saying “that we will have to cut the tree down if it doesn’t bear fruit next year!” How can that simple sentence cause anger in a community? If it is everyone’s favourite tree on the village green imagine the fury at the front page headline: TREE TO BE CUT DOWN! Then the story below will say “how the tree that hasn’t provided any fruit will have to be cut down” with no mention of how repentance can save it! (Luke 13: 1-8) Good news doesn’t sell, but a bit of scandal on the village green will stir people into action! We have done, and continue to do, our editing of God’s message so the meaning has been lost in translation.
The Word IS the source of life that will bring light into the chaos and confusion of our darkness and the darkness, like that which we experience in these days of pandemic, will NEVER put it out. John speaks a prophesy of hope into the darkness, both then and now, because if we can trust his message we will see the Word come to life as a light for God’s people to follow.
The Word is the image of all that is good so it doesn’t speak confusing theology, complicated doctrine or expect conflicting rituals because it is expressed in one simple four letter word: LOVE!
It’s not God’s will for it to create divisive religions, but the Word that spoke ‘good’ into the world shapes relationships in which we are united through the one Spirit. God is the author of the story and the Spirit takes the Word and writes it into the heart of Jesus Christ who becomes the living book for people to read. Jesus is the perfected Word that expresses the will of God and his story is the one that crosses all boundaries of faith, race, culture and gender. You can read him like an open book.
Our heavenly Father sends us one story of one love, spoken in the beginning, now written into human hearts through the life of the Son he loves and tells us to listen to. I can hear him saying, “I love you so much that I send my Son so that if you listen to him you can help us save the world!”
Bob Marley sums it up because if we can get together with one love and one heart we will be alright! How come this is so hard to get together is a question the song asks and one for us to wrestle with as children of God. Are we doing the will of our Father in heaven so the light will shine in the darkness on earth or is our vision on reaching the light in heaven when we leave earth?
The FIRST thing for us to do is to seek the Kingdom of God where we are, not where we want to be in the future. “Seek ye first…!” is what we sing and the asking and the door knocking are for now not at the end when the chance has gone for God’s will to be done in our life on earth. We can miss the opportunity to make a difference on earth, but Jesus doesn’t miss an opportunity for us to be different in heaven. We can be with him in Paradise when we recognise what is right, what is justice and confess our missed opportunities! (Luke 23: 39-43)
God isn’t the maker of religions with traditions, rituals and doctrines to be obeyed like children who will be thrown out of home if they are disobedient, but is our Father who teaches with One Word how children can grow to be the best they can be. The religious families to which we belong can make so many children feel unwelcome, unwanted and homeless. Our Father has one word for them as he looks across the boundaries of religious traditions as his Son seeks them first to lead them into a great relationship of love.
The WORD is like a child though that finds new life within us as Jesus breathes the Spirit on us. For me it is the born again experience that helps us enter the Kingdom of God and makes us the story through which people can see the light of life. It takes time for a child to grow in strength and wisdom so it could take 30 years before the Word reveals the glory of the one and only Son who came among us from the Father full of grace and truth. Be as patient with yourself, as God is patient with you and allow the growing to continue within you.
The Word is the child growing through you and like every child you are growing in strength and wisdom day by day so the better you know Jesus the better you make God known through your daily life. May the story of the child continue to grow in you. May it become the story of the Kingdom to come spoken through you, written on your heart and broken to share with everyone.
There is one more picture in my understanding of this gospel reading that makes the story come alive with hope in the chaotic darkness around us: The Word is like bread that is broken into many pieces for sharing. The Word is broken into many words with which the greatest love story spoken and written brings a light of hope into our darkness.
One Word like Bread alone is not enough if we don’t hear every word that comes from the mouth of God so that we can write a story into our hearts that declares that we have found the Kingdom of God. It WAS God’s will from the beginning that earth should be as good as heaven so let’s not lose the message in translation, but be led by the Spirit who hears the Word and gives us light. Amen.