The Gospel according to John is often the favorite among people, thus people are surprised that it is not my favorite Gospel. It might be due to my Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), because it is so different from the Gospels according to Mark, Matthew, and Luke.
However, the difference is beautiful language of philosophy, deeper thinking, and poetry that people love; and yet, this results in difficulty to follow it and to find concrete, tangible lessons to take forth.
This prologue, the opening verses of the Gospel, can specifically be a challenge to find tangibleness to hold on to but it teaches that words are important.
Words have power.
We have been taught, however, that words only compile about 20 percent of our communication while 80 percent is composed of our tone of voice and body language. And yet, words remain extremely important.
According to the Gospel of John and the Christian tradition, Christ is the Word (Incarnated).
This Word brought creation into being when God (the Father) spoke at the birth of all that exists.
But we can become stuck on the meaning of the word ‘Word’.
We often hold that ‘Word’ is simply about what we speak, write, or read and that is definitely part of it. But in the life of the church universal, we understand that the Word comes in three parts.
The first aspect of the ‘Word’ is the Bible or Scriptures. This is words in black and occasionally red on white pages that is the foundation of our worship, fellowship, and discipleship. This is the Word that offers guidance for our lives, which we can read.
The second aspect of the ‘Word’ is Jesus the Christ. Jesus was the Word Incarnate and embodied in his public life and ministry, which we can learn to imitate through the Scriptures.
The third aspect of the ‘Word’ is the ‘preached word’. It is not simply preached from a pulpit or desk on a Sunday morning from the pastor or a guest preacher.
Within our Baptismal Rite, we dedicate and commit ourselves first and foremost to proclaiming the Word (or Christ) in the thoughts we think, the words we speak, and the actions we do. All of our thoughts, words, and actions should embody the light of Christ. This light is hope, peace, joy, and love shining forth into a world that does not always seem illuminated, in a world that far too often seems dark, lonely, hopeless, full of strive, lacking in joy, and lacking in love.
We do not always give thought to our words, especially how our words impact others.
- When we have and hold negative thoughts, whether regarding ourselves or another, we do damage.
- When we are disrespectful, rude, inconsiderate, or self-centered (Martin Luther’s definition of sin), those words do damage.
This concept is included in our Lutheran understanding of ‘you shall not kill’, because we are called to not cause harm to another in body, mind, soul, or otherwise.
How often do we think negative thoughts, speak damaging words, or act in destructive means that is harmful to ourselves or another?
This is NOT proclaiming Christ in hope, peace, joy, and love.
Proclaiming the Word in hope, peace, joy, and love in thought, word, and deed is an aspect of being Christ-like and embodying Christ. Unfortunately, it is an aspect that I personally have failed to uphold.
I am confident that we all have and continue to fail to proclaim Christ in thought, word, and deed.
We could all do better.
This week and beyond:
- I invite us to ponder our thoughts and words.
- I encourage us to ponder how our thoughts and words influence our actions.
- I challenge us to ponder how our thoughts, words, and actions impact us, family, loved ones, friends, and even the stranger we pass on the street.
May we go forward with the Spirit of Christmas proclaiming loudly the Word
with the light of Hope, Peace, Joy, Love, and especially Christ.
Scriptures were John 1: 1-18.
Originally preached 03 January 2021 for Trinity Lutheran (Union City, Indiana).