In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out, ‘This was he of whom I said, “He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.”’) From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.
Language is an amazing gift. Words can give encouragement – or they can hurt. Words can show love – or hate. And that we are able to convey ideas to one another, however imperfectly, is incredible.
Words are clearly important to God. As well as creation, we have been given the Bible as a way of knowing God … and we have been given Jesus, The Word.
In our passage today, we are faced with a passage which is very familiar to many people – possibly even a favourite passage to some. Certainly it’s a passage which has much to consider, much to get our heads around: how can the Word be with God, and yet also be God…? Words can be challenging too, as they try to represent the indescribable!
Words can also get in the way. If you haven’t tried it before, may I suggest that you read the above passage omitting the parts which relate to John the Baptist? (Reading verses 1-5, 9-14, 16-18). This really focusses our reading on Jesus.
In focussing in in such a way, we can begin to ask ourselves whether we are worthy of that first Word. Are the words we speak shedding light in a dark world? Are the words we hear, the words we surround ourselves with, which reach our minds and affect our thoughts, full of grace and truth?
Questions like this can bring us to introduce more silence into our lives: times when we are not speaking as we might have done in the past, and times when we turn off the television, or the radio, or leave the gossiping work colleagues for a time. In this silence we may begin to hear again the eternal word of God, guiding us, strengthening us, and healing us.
teach us to use our words with care,
protect us from the damaging words around us,
and help us to listen for your word,
today and always.
Julie Young is a lay preacher and member of Farnham URC in Surrey.