The holidays are so busy that we tend to lose ourselves a bit. By that I mean we might forget to keep being who we are, the best part of us, in the midst of the crazy schedule we all try to keep.
In the last post we said we want you to remember one thing this Christmas…here is it…
This Christmas, try being present over perfect. Appreciate where you are instead of wishing you were somewhere else. Be grateful for what you have and stop wishing for what you don’t have. Do what it takes to be present to others, as Jesus has made himself present to us.
To keep this theme going we wanna look at another part of the gospels that helps us see how God was and is present, and how he calls us to be just as present to others around us.
For this we go to John 1. This fist chapter in John’s gospel is so special. No matter how many times I read it, it absolutely blows my mind. What we learn, how it makes me feel, how we’re invited to jump in and apply it.
John’s gospel isn’t quite like the others. Some say it’s like a pool that is safe enough for a child, but deep enough for an adult. This first chapter on it’s own is meant to helps us get to know who you’re about to meet before the story even begins.
Let’s read it…
(1-14) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
“In the beginning” (starts better than Matthew’s gospel does). Kind of like a children’s story, ‘once upon a time’.
You can’t help but think of Genesis. That’s on purpose. John wants to you to travel back in time – a time where God left his undeniable finger print on the world. He made the world. Creation. In the Beginning!!!
Here, just like in the beginning, God is acting in a new way within his much loved creation.
- Genesis = humans becoming humans
- John = God becoming human
John uses “WORD” to describe Jesus. The VOICE, you might say…
Already, John is hinting at something…
- You’re going to get to know Jesus by his words, his voice, his actions, just like you do other people…
- You’re going to get to know God through his voice…speaking, teaching, healing, helping, restoring…
I have a twin…I sound like my twin…he sounds like me…if my brother calls you, you might just start talking to him without realizing it’s not me…we sound the same…nuances are similar too…still to this day…very strange and cool at the same time…mostly strange 🙂
John is saying…when you hear Jesus talk, it sounds like God…but this isn’t a twin thing…it’s actually God, present, on earth, fully here, being God. The theme of this gospel, and especially these first verses are this: If you wanna know who the true God is, look long and look hard at Jesus. Listen to Jesus.
Three things about Jesus that John wants us to know:
– He is the light of the world (remember Genesis, let there be light)
– He is full of grace
– He is full of truth
Ironically, these are three things we appreciate in Jesus as he is present to us
– makes darkness go away
– loves me even if I don’t deserve it or can’t earn it
– tells me the truth
I love that about Jesus.
I love that about my friends too. When someone is present with you, fully engaged and awake to the moments they are spending with us, they bring a certain brightness (& warmth) to the room, they fill the room with grace, and they’re willing to tell me the truth (in love).
Who is our best example of this? JESUS.
John says…this is who Jesus is…but essentially, this is who GOD is!!! AND…HE’s HERE!!! PRESENT WITH YOU!
But that’s not all we get from this. Somebody else is very present in this story – John the Baptist.
He’s the one who tells us that Jesus is coming. He gives us the heads up, he’s the witness, it’s through him that others would find out and believe in Jesus. That’s a big deal. That’s also a big responsibility.
John was considered a wanderer, a nomad, a rough and tough kind of guy. He was far from perfect, yet he was instrumental to introducing the world to Jesus…to God.
How’s that possible? Think about this, John, Mary, Joseph, others in the birth narrative…none of them were perfect. But one thing they were was PRESENT.
John and the others were present, so that the world would know that GOD was present.
John’s role is help people STOP, LOOK & LISTEN.
We say this about art, and music, and creative things: they don’t only get our attention, but they help us to be aware of what else is right in front of us. John’s role in this story is like the artist who helps us pay attention to what’s really important. He does that by simply being present and doing what he was called to do, in the moment. Like art, John the Baptist frames the moment, so the world is aware that there is something to be looking at.
That’s our role too – to be present and aware to the moments we’re given, so that we don’t miss what God might be doing in us, through us, or in others, for us.
Fredrick Beuchner says it like this: The world is a manger, where God is being born again and again and again. You’ve got your mind on so many other things – busy with this and that, you don’t see it. You don’t notice it.
May we be like John the Baptist, not perfect, but present. Not well-kept, but well-awake. Not trying to be someone else, but being faithful to being who God called him to be, in that moment, in that frame, in the season – so others could STOP, LOOK, & LISTEN.
The ancient Greeks believed in two kinds of time: Chronos time & Kairos time. One is quantitative, the other is qualitative. One is spent, the other is invested. One is used up, the other is used well. You have one life to live folks. Let’s be careful not to miss the moments God gives us, with him, for him, with others, for others.
You don’t have to be perfect, you only have to be present.
What’s distracting you from seeing God’s presence right in front of you?
What’s got your attention away from the most important moment or conversation that’s right in front you?
Will you pray this season for God to help you be present, in the right here, and the right now, as he was and is?
The word became flesh…and moved into my space. Can I be as present to others, as he has been and is to me?