Summary: Jesus was with God at creation. He was there as a word. At Christmas we celebrate the incarnation of that word. His communication creates a reality and gives us hope for a better future.
Advent is a time of preparation. We are preparing for the celebration of the birth of the baby Jesus. At the same, we also wait for the Second Coming, waiting for the consummation of God and God’s creation. We are waiting and we are preparing.
As we prepare we must enter into dialogue. We have conversation about what this means. We discuss the impact that Jesus has had on our lives. We debate the mysteries of God and the sacraments and the apocalypse. As we prepare for His coming we talk and we listen. And we do this because we have a word to share. We want to have interpersonal relationships with others. Hopefully, we are open to hear what others have to say. Furthermore, I hope we are also willing to say what we have to say.
In the story of creation in Chapter 2 of Genesis, God takes the dirt and creates man in his own image. Previously recorded in chapter 1, God says, “Let US make man in OUR image.” This ability to speak, to communicate on a higher level is what separates us from the apes. It is what gives us intellect and intelligence. We are not imprisoned by the soil. We are free to be open toward what transcends us.
What exactly is that? The words first spoken to us by our parents is what stimulates and evokes over-time our own self-consciousness, our own sense of autonomy, and our ability to think independently. By speaking and listening transcendence and presence are both identified. To carry on a conversation with anybody means that we are not alone. Someone else is present. Someone else stands parallel to me, not just an object of perception or even my manipulation, but the person with which I communicate is a person. The other party is present but also transcendent – in the sense that he or she remains beyond my control, untouchable, mysterious, a force that could in time impact my very existence. This is what happens in genuine communication.
Conversation then is what opens us toward the future. To enter into any genuine dialogue puts one in the place of learning something new, establishing a new relationship that may go into an unforeseen direction. One could, of course, refuse to enter into dialogue either by not talking at all or by simply manipulating the situation by domination the conversation. But even as one does this the future is still inevitable. Eventually conversation will have to take place. Lives will have to impacted.
That is why using words is important. Communication is key because communication creates reality. What we say creates the present and the future. Words have tremendous impact on our very being. Again this is why we must be open to not just hearing but listening to what other people have to say. Otherwise, we are simply talking to the walls – certainly we have all experienced this. As a pastor, with some of you, I have spent over two years talking to the wall.
Because communication is so important to me, because listening and thinking and challenging my own perceptions is so important to me, that is why I really like the way John introduces Jesus Christ.
Look again at the first few verses of John’s gospel.
The word was with God from the beginning. I want to unpack that a little bit and then connect it to my major point about preparation for the coming.
For 2000 years now there has been much discussion about this Word. In the Greek, word is logos. And logos carries with it a lot of baggage. In fact, some translations of the Bible will not even translate this passage as the word, they leave it as logos. This Greek word, logos, was used a lot in the first century. Philosophers and religious rulers alike used this terminology implying several different meanings. Many have argued different reasons why John, who wrote his narrative later than all the other gospels, introduced the story of Jesus in such a way – with this controversial word “logos.”
What seems most apparent is that this Jewish Christian was influenced by his background. In Hebrew tradition it is not the logos that was at creation but sophia, wisdom.
Listen as I read from Proverbs 8. (Read verse 1-3 and 22-31)
This logos brings with it associations from the Jewish tradition of wisdom. It was wisdom that had been God’s companion, God’s craftsman at his side, working with God to create and accomplish God’s plan for humanity. In later Jewish traditions wisdom was more directly influenced by Greek thought. Commentator CK Barret says, “Wisdom or Sophia becomes increasingly a personal being standing by the side of God over against, but not unconcerned with, the creation of the world.”