For the last decade and more, since the publication of ‘The Church Without Walls’ report, between Christmas and Easter I have taken each of the Four Gospels in turn as the basis or our reflections on Sunday mornings. CWW recommended taking one of the Gospels and living with it for a year allowing it to shape congregational life. I felt that it was really on to something in that the Church has not taken the Gospels as seriously as it should have, but that one Gospel for the whole year would have turned people off. However, using one Gospel each year between the two major festivals continually tells the Story in which we live – the Story of Jesus – and we allow his teaching to seep into our lives, learning more and more about who he is. Personally, I have found these years to be the most challenging years of my Christian life, being constantly made aware of the ethics of our discipleship.
This year we are using John’s Gospel, and over the Christmas period we have taken several of the themes of the first chapter, which takes us to a beginning before Bethlehem, and even before Creation.
The Light from God – who banishes the darkness of our ignorance and sin
The Life from God – come in flesh to give us the life of God within us
The Word of God – come to reveal God to us and communicate God’s love to us
And then John the Baptist comes along and says a few more big things.
The Lamb of God – who takes away the sin of the world
The Son of God – who baptises with the Holy Spirit
The Messiah – come to bring in God’s Kingdom
and much more.
When some of John’s followers come to enquire more about Jesus we hear the first words from Jesus’ lips – ‘What are you seeking?’ The writer of the Gospel is doing more than retelling a story of two men curious about Jesus. He is drawing us, his readers, in to reflect on our own lives and what we are seeking in life in the light of who we are being told Jesus is and what he is able to give us. One of the men, Andrew, seeks our his brother, Simon Peter, and tells him, ‘We have found the Messiah.’ They found in Jesus what they were looking for.
After last Sunday I thought that I had more or less finished with John 1 but today I discovered that the Wordlive daily reading for 1 January was John 1:1-18! Actually, we could spend the whole three months digging deeper in this text because there is so much in it. But we can’t. Why? Because John (the author) wants us to read the whole Gospel, watching what Jesus does, listening to what Jesus says so that we can weigh up for ourselves the claims of John 1 – and become convinced in our own minds about Jesus the Word and that in him we too can find what we are seeking.