Monday 5 February 2024

Amen. In the beginning...

Proverbs 8.1,22-31 Does not wisdom call, the first of his acts of old?

Colossians 1.15-20 Christ is the image of the invisible God

John 1.1-14 In the beginning was the Word




‘Let’s start at the very beginning, that a very good place to start’ That’s the wisdom of the Sound of Music, and points us to where our readings appear to take us.


But I want to begin with a word that is usually though of as an ending not a beginning: Amen.


The word ‘Amen’ is a word that seals and affirms all the words we have said just before.


‘Amen’ is the last word of the Bible itself (Revelation 22.21) and it is the word we use to seal, affirm and sign off, as it were, all our prayers and what we believe.


Amen. So be it. Yes.


When we say ‘Amen’ it’s more than just agreeing with something, it is using a word to say, with all my heart and soul and mind and strength: ‘so be it’; ‘yes’; ‘Amen’.


The word ‘Amen’ shows the power of one little word that says so much more than the sum of its parts.


It’s also a word that connects us to Jesus himself, for it is a word he uses in prayer and, sometimes, when he begins to speak, because the ‘Amen’ of Jesus is not just an ending but a beginning too.


We find this in the Book of Revelation.


When speaking to one of the ancient churches Jesus says, ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the origin of God’s creation’ (Revelation 3.14).


It’s a key verse. Jesus calls himself the ‘Amen’, the ‘so be it’ to all that God is, and that he is the origin of God’s creation; inseparable from the Creator.


Jesus is the ‘Amen’ the beginning and the end of all things, Alpha and Omega.


‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the origin of God’s creation’.


This verse holds together all three of our readings this morning: when we speak of Jesus Christ we are not speaking about an add-on or extension to God’s original creative purpose; Jesus is not like an upgrade on some redundant software.


Jesus Christ is from the beginning and is God.


St John magisterially puts it like this, ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word  was God’. (John 1.1)


So what is this ‘Word’?


The Greek word for… Word, is ‘logos’.


‘In the beginning was the ‘logos’, and the ‘logos’ was with God and the ‘logos’ was God…’


This Greek word ‘logos’, gives us in English the word 'logical'.


‘Logos’ is embedded in our language of reasoning and logic so that we can be rational creatures.


Subjects with 'ology' at the end are another example: it means a topic about which there is reasoned dialogue – there’s the word again dia-logos – it means rational, reasoned thought about a subject.


Theology is a reasoned consideration of the nature of Theos - God.


Sociology is the reasoned consideration of societal things; musicology the things of music and so on.


‘Logos’ in ancient Greek thought was the rational component of creation and of the sacred order of things.


So the ‘logos’ is rather remote and dry and stuck in our heads if it’s just about the academic world and lectures.


But here’s the thing!


And this is why what St John says is so amazing, wonderful and startling.


The ‘logos’, he says, is not dry and remote. ; the ‘logos’ has become flesh, has a body, can be heard and seen and touched and felt.


Yes, the ‘logos’ is all the things the Greeks thought it was, but it is more.


For St John the ‘logos’ moves from being an ‘it’ to being a ‘he’; from a concept to be a person: ‘the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us’ (John 1.14): ‘the ‘logos’ was made flesh and dwelt among us’.


Shortly we’ll say the Nicene Creed, as we do Sunday by Sunday. And we will express this understanding of who God is.


We will speak of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.


And when it comes to the Son, the logos, Jesus Christ, we will say this:


We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,

the only Son of God,

eternally begotten of the Father,

God from God, Light from Light,

true God from true God,

begotten, not made,

of one Being with the Father;

through him all things were made.

For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven,

was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary

and was made man.


This is the heart of orthodox Christian belief about who Jesus is, proclaimed in the Nicene Creed.


We’re proclaiming that the Word - who we know to be Jesus Christ - is God before all time; he is not an element of creation; he is God, very God, he is of one substance - consubstantial – with the Father.


Then the hinge on which everything swings: ‘And the Word was made flesh’, or as the Creed puts it ‘He was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary’.


There it is.


The creator of time is born in time: the Word becomes flesh. And in becoming one of us St Paul writes, ‘[God] has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. ‘’  (Colossians 1.13,14).


This is because, Paul continues, in our second lesson,  ‘[Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together.’ (Colossians 1.15,16)


So Jesus Christ is God’s first Word: Amen, and God’s last Word, and God’s continuing Word.


This is the Word who, made present by the Spirit, speaks to us of salvation, hope, love, peace and joy.


This Word comes to us as the Bread of Life and the living Word broken open in the scriptures.


To Christ our life and salvation may we join in the Great Amen.

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