1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
In the beginning……..
During this last week we have been reminded of at least two reasons to celebrate 2012.
It’s 200 years since Charles Dickens was born.
And it’s 60 years since Princess Elizabeth became our Queen.
In order for us to appreciate these occasions
and to celebrate them fully
it seems necessary to go back to the beginning of these events.
We have heard that Charles Dickens was born in Portsmouth,
that he experienced poverty in his childhood.
That his father was locked in the Marshalsea prison for debt,
and that he was put to work as a boy in terrible conditions in a factory.
And because of this beginning,
Charles Dickens used his narrative genius,
his brilliant character portrayals,
and vivid sense of humour,
not only to give us a series of gripping good reads,
but also to raise awareness of the dark, murky, side of Victorian England,
and to help bring about social reform.
This week we have also seen, pictures of the young Queen, on hearing the news of the death of her father, flying home from her holiday in Kenya.
Dressed in black, she is met at the airport by the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, and the members of her Government.
We have once again seen pictures of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation,
when she dedicated herself in service to God and her people,
And because of this beginning, 60 years later, we can thankfully celebrate this faithful dedication to our country.
In today’s readings we are invited to go back to the beginning
to be reminded of all that we celebrate here in our worship today.
In the beginning God created……
So begins the Bible….
The Old Testament reading from Proverbs is full of light, beauty and joy
as the voice of Wisdom talks about rejoicing in the world at the very beginning of creation.
“Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth.”
One version of the Bible uses the word “playing” and speaks of Wisdom being God’s darling and delight.
It speaks of a new creation where everything is as it should be and anything is possible.
A world created with wisdom,
Personified as a desirable woman,
holding the symbol for life in one hand
and riches and well-being in the other.
An image of order, justice and righteousness.
God’s beautiful creation we can surely celebrate today.
The tragedy is that things are no longer as they were at the beginning,
There is darkness around us:
in the damage we have done to our world;
in the tragedies and disasters we hear about daily;
in our own lives and in the lives of others.
But God seems to have taken this into his planning as well!
In the beginning was the word…..
So begins John’s Gospel
Unlike the other Gospels, John begins not with human time, but with eternity. .
Here we find wisdom personified as Jesus
the eternal word of God.
Jesus who embodies wisdom in his person and his teaching.
This Gospel message is that even in our battered world the light of life and beauty still shines
– the darkness has not overcome it.
– God still delights in the human race, in each one of us.
And it’s in the nature of love, in the nature of God,
to want to enjoy fellowship with us,
to want the very best for us.
For us to become children of God.
So he comes to live among us, to draw us to himself in Jesus.
In Jesus we see what God is like in human form – concerned about people’s lives and welfare;
willing to forgive and heal;
always ready to offer a new start,
with new possibilities opening before us,
as it was in the beginning.
And if God delights in us then surely it matters to him how we respond .
Cardinal Basil Hume says, in his book “Mystery of the Incarnation”, that we mustn’t worry about whether or not we have love for God.
We just need to remember the simple truth that God is in love with each of us.
It’s an amazing thought – that each of us can say “God is in love with me” “God delights in me”.
It’s a mustard seed of faith which grows and begins to change us and our lives.
It’s not something that happens overnight.
We’ll probably each of us spend our whole life receiving God’s invitations
and we’ll probably miss a few because we can’t or won’t watch and listen.
Or maybe we’ll recognise the invitations but are afraid of saying “yes”, because that would mean having to change and grow
and change and growth are very often uncomfortable or downright painful.
But we are not alone.
Jesus, the Word and Wisdom of God made flesh, is with us.
He is our light and his life is the life that will never die.
No darkness in our lives can overcome that light
Sometimes though, it does seem as if the darkness is all there is
and that’s when we need each other.
Our own light may go out for a while leaving us lost in the darkness.
But being part of the body of Christ means that someone else nearby is carrying a light
and can hold that up for us until our darkness passes.
Then it may be our turn to hold the Christ light for someone else.
There is darkness around us: but in that darkness a light shines and refuses to be overcome.
A light which offers us new hope, new strength, new courage and new starts.
The light of eternal life.
God delights in us: there is no darkness that can overcome that light.
So here and now in 2012, let us celebrate God’s love for us,
his delight in each of us,
His light which cannot be extinguished by any darkness of this world.