January 2, 2005 - Christmas 2

John 1:10-18

110 He was already in the world
and through him the world was made,
the very world that did not know him.
11 He came to his own,
yet his own people did not receive him;
12 but all who have received him
he empowers to become children of God
for they believe in his Name.
13 These are born, but without seed
or carnal desire or will of man:
they are born of God.
14 And the Word was made flesh;
he had his tent pitched among us,
and we have seen his Glory,
the Glory of the only Son
coming from the Father:
fullness of truth and loving-kindness.
15 John bore witness to him openly, saying:
This is the one who comes after me,
but he is already ahead of me
for he was before me.
16 From his fullness we have all received,
favor upon favor.
17 For God had given us the Law through Moses,
but Truth and Loving-kindness
came through Jesus Christ.
18 No one has ever seen God,
but God-the-Only-Son made him known:
the one who is in and with the Father.

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The Word was made flesh. John uses the word flesh to underline the utter humility of God who, despite being spirit, became a creature with a mortal body. John says: was made, and not: "took the appearance" of a human person, because the Son of God was truly human.

God become human dwelt among us. The root sense of this verb "dwell" in the Bible is: to have one's tent pitched. So John is pleased to allude to the sacred tent that served as the Hebrews' sanctuary in the desert: in that tent, God was present beside them (Ex 33:7-11). In reality Jesus, the Son of God become human, is the true Temple of God among people (Jn 2:21), a temple as humble and apparently fragile as the tent in the desert was: nevertheless, in him is the fullness of God. The apostles saw his glory at certain moments of his mortal life (Jn 2:11 and Lk 9:32). They saw his glory in his Passion and Resurrection.

How does the Word save us? John does not speak only of Jesus rescuing us from the abyss of sin; he prefers to speak of Jesus allowing us to attain a status totally unexpected and beyond our reach: he made them children of God. We are made children of God by the very Son of the Father, provided that we believe in his Name, which is in his divine personality.

In him was the fullness of Love and Truth (v. 14). Love (or Grace) and Truth (or Faithfulness) are God's two main qualities (Ex 34:6-7). These words are repeated as a refrain throughout Psalm 89. John means then that he has recognized the fullness of Jesus' divinity (Col 2:9).

God has given us the Law. While recounting the sins of Israel, the biblical story foretold the time when there would be no need for a Law engraved in stones or written in books (Jer 31:31). Some day God would change the sinners' hearts (Ezk 36:26) so that relationships of mutual Love and Faithfulness between God and humankind would begin (Hos 2:21-22). John affirms that the promised time of Love and Truth (of perfect religion) arrived through Jesus Christ.

[The Community Christian Bible]

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1. Presume the very world created with GOD doesn't understand its creation. With this as a given, what questions need to be asked? what perspectives pursued? Presuming that Jesus reveals a lens through which GOD can not only be praised, but understood and emulated, What are the key values that would change our unknowing of to identification with?

Here are two overarching values present in every choice we make. These values will be enhanced or reduced through their presence or absence in every specific issue we label a "moral value" in this day, or any day. Playing back and forth are "living by truth" (not just past, but present and open to even more truth to come) and "loving through kindness/compassion/mercy/forgiveness/etc."

2. Living truth and loving kindness are gifts of perspective that assist one another so neither goes off on its own. GOD gave both gifts. We need to embody both gifts. A significant question not usually asked by proponents of one moral value, or another, is how their particular issue can engage these two key values more than how enough political clout can be established to have them win the day.

It is too easy to become single-issue, wedge-issue oriented. Followers of Jesus and a closer connection with GOD need to wrestle with on-going play between living and loving, truth and kindness.

3. When we run into situations where folks are not being received, it is a fair bet that the qualities of living truth and loving kindness have been reduced to some other single value. These twin values are the background against which radical welcoming takes place. Jesus was a radical welcomer, even when not welcomed/received by others. Now it your turn, and mine, to pull together the best of our past (Moses) and present (Jesus) on behalf of a better future where radical welcoming comes more easily.

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