The Rev. Rebecca S. Myers, CSW
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Corbin, KY
In the beginning…. John 1:1
Please be seated.
I don’t remember my father’s sister, my Aunt Jean, but she was there at the beginning of my life. I was Aunt Jean’s first niece or nephew. In the late 1950’s Aunt Jean was a divorced, single mom with two of her own children and she was dying from Lupus. In her letters to my parents, she was so excited about my impending birth. My father was in the army and my parents were living in Ft. Smith, Arkansas. Aunt Jean was in Hanover, Pennsylvania. Six weeks after I was born, my father got out of the army and thus began the long trip to relocate to Pennsylvania. The first stop was the hospital where Aunt Jean was. My parents sneaked me up the stairs to my Aunt Jean’s room, so she could hold me. Not long after that Aunt Jean died.
This morning we heard the prologue to John’s Gospel. In the beginning…. Immediately we are reminded of the very first words of the Bible, In the beginning or bereshith in Hebrew. Bereshith comes from a root that means, head, most important thing. John, although writing in Greek, echoes Genesis. In the beginning…. The head…the most important thing. What was In the beginning?
Love was in the beginning. Jesus, love incarnate, was with God in the beginning.
This is not the love we usually hear in love songs. This is not the love that has any expectation of return. This is the love most of us can never fully realize. Unconditional love. Paul tried to write about it in 1 Cor. Chapter 13:
4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
So much in our world and in our history tries to snuff out love. Wars. Hatred. Superiority. Fear. We do so much to cast out love.
But love, the kind of love that was there at the beginning, is never extinguished…never. Unconditional regard, care, blessing is always with us from Christ. We may ignore it, go against it, but we are continually called to live it out…to be guided by it.
Communion was in the beginning. Jesus and God were in communion. Different, yet one. Diversity in relationship. Communion in relationship. The Holy Trinity – God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Three persons in communion…in intimate relationship…in koinonia.
We are called to live in this same communion with each other. We don’t need to be the same. We are called to our authentic “created by God” selves in communion with each other, in community with each other.
Unfortunately, our history and culture are riddled with voices that want us to be the same…that want to destroy anything that is different…anything labeled “other” … that insist on convincing us we must believe or act as they do. We find it so difficult to be in relationship with one another in our difference.
Yet, that is what we do each week when we come to a worship service, isn’t it? We come from various places, different lives, different pasts, different political views. Despite that, we pray the same prayers, say the same words, adopt similar postures and ultimately eat of the same bread and drink of the same cup. Together we are the Body of Christ, each with our own necessary contribution. The body of Christ is not complete without us and we are not complete without each other.
In the beginning of my life was my Aunt Jean, a woman I don’t remember meeting. I don’t recall her face. I don’t remember her arms holding me. Yet, this story of her love for me and the story of her joy in holding me have connected me to her my entire life.
Love and communion creating the light of the world for all people.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.