June 11, 2017 1st Sunday of Pentecost
Genesis 1:1–2:4a 2 Corinthians 13:11–13 John 1: 1-5, 9-14
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.
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.
In the beginning, before everything else, was God. There was a void, which means: Nothing. It was all darkness. Nothing was there. That’s how the Old Testament, the spoken tradition of the Hebrew people, which led to the written word, begins our creation mythos. I’m not talking about myth or mythology, which means stories of different gods and goddesses and supernatural forces – I am talking mythos: The core stories that form the understanding, the zeitgeist of our culture; the core symbols that speak to us about who we are.
The beginning of our mythos is darkness and nothing. But before that beginning, was God – the infinite power that has the ability to create universes. This mythos of creation lasted thousands of years. But then, 2,000 years ago, Jesus came to live on earth and more was added to that story. We learned that with God was the Word. The Word was with God and it was God. He was present before the forming of our universe. In fact the Word worked with God to make everything that was ever created come into being. And everything came into being through the Word because: Then God SAID, “Let there be light”; and there was light.
The word “light” was spoken by the Divine Power and light came into being. But, God did not get rid of the darkness, he merely contained it and separated it from the light to use later. Darkness wasn’t evil – it simply was; but it was useful. Light became day, and darkness night. And then God, with the Word, spoke more things into being. They spoke the sky, and the land, and the seas into being. They spoke the plants that all the animals eat into being. They spoke the sun, and moon, and stars into being. They spoke the fish, and the birds, and the animals into being. And finally they spoke humanity into being.
What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.
And after each thing was created God pronounced it good. After giving humanity life, God pronounced us good. But then God gave us to us a special gift: The gift of speech along with the permission to name every plant and animal on the earth. God gave us the gift of the power of the Word.
God gave us the power to name our reality. That is one of the meanings of the story of Genesis – the naming of reality, and the power of naming our reality. Hang onto that thought for a minute because before we talk about that power, we have to acknowledge that soon after we were created into a relationship with God, we lost our relationship with God.
We all know the story of the fruit, and the serpent, and the temptation, and the fall. I don’t literally believe that part of the story, but I figuratively believe that at one point our consciousness became separated from God. Not completely of course, because we are able to perceive God and His power working in our lives. But I think that our consciousness, handed down through our DNA memories, is aware of an ability that we had to commune with God at one point, which we have lost. And if you read the Bible you realize that it’s a long story about the attempts of humanity to gain back to that connection. Individuals are working to get that connection with God; they are trying to help their neighbors get a connection with God; and whole cultures are trying to get that connection with God. We are trying to get back to the Garden. And we have been using the spoken and written word to do it since our time began.
And you know what? It is sometimes a really frustrating process because we all start from the beginning. We all start prenatally in darkness. And then all of a sudden there is this light, and then there is sound. We say our first word, which is really just a howl of crying. But you know, we’ve found out that babies can’t be born without that crying. It’s built into us to cry so that our lungs will start working so that we can live. Crying is actually good for babies. That first power of the howl of sound gets and keeps us alive. We begin by crying out a word of creation. Our beginning is darkness, to light, to word.
Jesus walked that same road. The Word became Jesus, Emanuel, God with Us, by putting himself into darkness, and being born into the light, and crying the primal word that we all cry when we’re born. Jesus, the Word, who was there at the beginning, brought us the Word through His words and deeds so that we can get closer to God.
And by following the light of his words we dispel the darkness of our confusion and misunderstanding, and we re-forge our connection to God.
By using our words to pray, we ignite our thoughts and offer them up to God as an offering. When you open your heart and you talk to God or Jesus, you’re harnessing the great power that God gave you to articulate your thoughts and giving your thoughts to Him. So your prayers become an offering and the beginning of a conversation with God about something.
By using our words and voices to sing, we ignite our bodies and souls in praise of God, as we participate in His joy.
By paying careful attention to words, we listen to and grow to understand the pain of others. Then by using our words, we comfort and heal broken hearts and spirits.
By using our words, we give knowledge to each other so that our society will learn from our successes and failures and go on to greater things.
By using our words, and examining the words of others, we challenge tyranny and speak the truth so that it stays alive in this world.
Christ came into the world: And the Word became flesh and lived among us. We know that many of his own people did not accept him, even though, with the words and the mythos of his own people, he spoke the word of God His Father. 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.
Christ, showed us how we are born into being children of God, through the Holy Spirit, by His death and resurrection.
There have been times in each of our lives when we have felt alone. We have been alone with unbearable pain, and doubt and uncertainty like Christ on the cross. And we have all felt dreadfully alone and cut off from life in our tombs of despair. But though we may feel alone in our pain and despair God is still there. If God wasn’t there then there would be no unsealing of door and rolling away of the stone. There would have been no proclamation by angels who said, “He is not here, he is risen.” Mary Magdalene and the woman, who came in darkness to the tomb, would not have seen Christ in his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. There would have been no meeting in the Upper Room, or on the Road to Emmaus, or by the Sea of Galilee.
But God was there, and Christ was there, and the Word was there on that Easter morning and on the day of Pentecost, when the Wind of God passed over the crowd and gave them the gift of words once again in the tongues of new languages, at the beginning of the Church.
We’ve all heard the expression: When you don’t know what to do – Go back to the beginning. So when you don’t know what to do go back to the beginning to figure it out: What is the darkness that you are in? Even if the darkness is one that you do not know, use your gift that God gave you: the power of speaking to reality, of speaking your reality into being. Whatever it is, name it. Even naming your ignorance helps, and then speak the words in prayer to ask Jesus to guide you into the light of truthful knowledge. Then speak your knowledge and truth into action by declaring what you will do. The power has been given to us to name our reality into being, and to map out a path that we can walk on.
Speak it, pray for it, and work with Jesus on creating it. And God will bless it, from the beginning to the end of it, and say, “It is good.”