In the beginning ... a great place to start. Appropriate for story-telling, akin to 'once upon a time ...'. This year we will be looking at His Story, and our place & role in it. So it is good to start 'In the beginning'.
In the beginning was the word. This is using the Greek word 'logos', which can literally mean the spoken word. Yet in Greek thought it can also mean the 'life force', the force or power that makes the universe tick.
The word was with God. The Greek 'logos' meets the Greek word 'theos', the general word for a god, but to Jewish ears there can only be one God and no other. So the writer is saying that the mysterious life force is with the one God, intimately related, intertwined and inseparable.
The word was with God and was God. Not just two things together, but one, one being, one entity. The Greek 'logos' concept and Jewish one and only 'Theos' are in fact the same. Verse 2 reminds us 'with God in the beginning' - right the start, however far back you go, they are together, they are one.
Through him all things were made (verse 3). All of creation, everything ever made, was made through the word. God creates out of nothing - apart from God there is nothing else. He creates the universe, star systems, our planet, all through the word. The writer re-iterates that nothing has been made without him. Every atom, molecule, dna, cells and therefore life itself, all created through the word.
The ability to live, to exist, to think, are all in him. They always have been. It is his life that enables our life, he lights up our life and enables us to truly live. His life shines even in the darkness - in other words God reveals. He enable us to know without having to resort to wild speculation.
Once we start to know we can begin telling the story. This is what guy called John the Baptist does. And what a story to tell - one with an incredible turn, a plot twist of cosmic proportions. For the author of the story, the one through whom everything is created, himself enters the story and becomes its centre-piece, the point of the story, the reason for its telling.
This is not God revealing from a distance, but himself coming to live - right here as a human being. The creator becomes created! You would think that every being, every person would warmly embrace him ... yet sadly they did not recognise him or receive him.
But some did. To those God gave a special status - He made them God's children. Now children are loved, children belong. They know they belong - through the relating of parent to child they find their security, the relationship gives them their identity and peace.
The twist in the story can be summed up as 'The word became flesh'. This is the person we know in the Christmas story, and we know he grows up, becomes a man, and has a name: Jesus. Yes Jesus was God and is God, from the beginning, before all creation and all time. Everything is created through him, Jesus. The story is all about him!
Yet the story can also include us. Will we be one of those who receives Jesus? Hence the key question:
Key Qn: [UP] How do you receive Jesus as we start 2017?
Challenge: Be still and receive Jesus closer still
Maybe you first received Jesus years ago, yet we all find in the busyness of life, the crowd of everyday activity, that we can easily leave him in the margins, or have areas of our life where he is not yet invited. Our discipleship habit 'ever closer to Jesus' is one where we take the above challenge to heart on a regular basis - stopping to realise those areas where we have been trying to live without him, and changing that by first being still, and then welcoming him ever closer.
This year is about His Story - Jesus with God from the beginning. If we are brave enough to receive him, either for the first time or in fresh areas of our life, then maybe we can discover our story too.