ABC day 2 – John: let’s start at the very beginning

Gospels, Middle English; part of the Apology on the Gospel according to John and John 1:1. England, mid-fifteenth century, f.102v
Picture by Dunedin Public Libraries

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth…

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…

The start of the Old Testament and the start of the New Testament. Maggi suggests reading Genesis 1:1-5 and John 1:1-5 today, and thinking on beginnings – and how to choose a place to start. Both testaments start right back at the very beginning. You may be a literalist and believe that the heaven and earth were created all at once – or you may read Genesis as suggesting that God was responsible for the Big Bang and the ultimate existence of everything. Sara ponders a little more on that here.

But you can’t read John 1:1 that way. Apart from wondering what this mysterious Word is, it could hardly be more emphatic:

In the beginning was the Word.
The Word was with God.
The Word was God.

They are very firm, and very definite. I remember my grammar school headmaster, John Loarridge, reading them every Christmastime at our school carol services. Others, I’m sure, have similar recollections from their youth. These days it is the Dean or the Bishop at the Cathedral. The voice of authority. Start at the beginning. Here’s where it’s at. If you get this, everything else will fit into place. The ultimate three point sermon, perhaps?

Ultimately John is mystical; Genesis likewise. My favourite thought of Maggi’s today is that “To get the full picture of human life and meaning, we need more than science alone: we need poetry and philosophy, story and history, art and music.” And here, in the poetry of Genesis and John is the timbre of history – words that have spoken to people through the ages – words that remind us that, whilst we may be rushing towards Christmas (presents? turkey ordered? parties attended? carols sung?) that ultimately we don’t need to rush – but take the time to hear the Word.

Maranatha – come, Lord Jesus.

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