Monday, July 20, 2015

Series on John #1 - "I Have Seen the Lord" - John 1 (The Prologue)

Beginning at the end of June, I started a sermon series on the Gospel of John.  While our lectionary provides a chance to experience the narrative of the Synoptic Gospels, John is inserted here and there and we never have that opportunity.  So I will take the next several months to work through John.  My inspiration and principal guide for this series is Karoline Lewis' new commentary on the Gospel of John which has just been released by Augsburg/Fortress.  I attended a workshop that Dr. Lewis conducted and was so taken with John and inspired and excited that it has led to this series.  I will add that Dr. Lewis has very graciously given me some guidance and advice, which has been of great value to me.  I am very grateful to her for that.  Additionally, I decided that the over-riding theme I would lift up was the theme of "Seeing."  "Seeing in the Dark," "I Have Seen the Lord," "Come and See," "Look Up..." and other references appear throughout the Gospel. I have therefore added the dimension of using a powerpoint slide show to enhance the sermon.  I will not be posting the slides however.  Finally, I am also carefully choosing the hymn/song that comes immediately before and following the sermon in hopes that it will also enhance the experience.  I will post here the text for the spoken part of the sermon.  The visual and musical elements are not easily posted, but if anyone wants additional information simply email me and I am happy to share.  I hope you find this edifying and I commend Dr. Lewis' work to you if you wish to explore more deeply the riches of the Gospel of John.

Sermon #1 - "I Have Seen the Lord"

Mary Magdalene: I have seen the Lord!  NOT – Christ is Risen – Alleluia! – This is a theological statement –
The words we hear from Mary are a personal statement –
Remember that the word LORD is a loaded word in Judaism
Look at Psalm – LORD – those capital letters = God/Yahweh
Mary is not only saying she has seen Jesus!
Mary statement lay at the heart of John’s Gospel –
I have seen the Lord – I have seen God – because when I see Jesus I see God

Let’s turn back to 1:18 - No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.  Who has revealed Him / Shown him

So, have you ever seen God before?  Have you ever experienced God before?  If so, what does God look like?  Where have you found God?

For Michaelangelo – Sistine Chapel – Old man with a beard
For others – God as mother

For some of us perhaps he look into the sky and we see God in stars
In mountains
In nature
In the grandeur of nature
In the intricacy of nature

This glorious creation reflects God – Humanity reflects God

But John doesn’t deny this but John calls on us to look at it differently:
In the beginning – God created… Genesis
In the beginning – was the Word – the Word was in the beginning and the Word was God – All things were created by the Word –

God is the Word – And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us! tented, moved into our neighborhood –

Can you see – understand how amazing this is?  God has moved in – God lives with us – We have beheld his glory because we see it all the time!  We have seen God.  We see God all the time – whenever we see Jesus…

So yes – stars, mountains, nature, in the grandeur and intricacy of nature – but John is going to lead us into some other places and we are going to see Jesus / God in those other places too:
            We will see God
… in the midst of need, turning water into an abundance of wine
                        … reaching out to those who are excluded and bringing them into community
                        … feeding the hungry
                        … healing the sick - giving sight to the blind
                        … loving the unlovable - opposing hate
… comforting those who are in grief and suffering loss
                        … in the midst of death…

God in Jesus is still -
… in the midst of need, bringing abundance
                        … reaching out to all in love and grace
                        … feeding the hungry
                        … healing the sick - giving sight to the blind
… confronting death with life, confronting hate and comforting those who are in grief and suffering loss

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God… and the Word was made flesh and tents among us and we have seen His glory… No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made revealed God.

John tells us right here in these 18 verses that the in story that is about to commence we will see Jesus in all of these and more situations and in seeing Jesus, we see God.  And once we see God through Jesus in the Gospel, we will see God in the midst of our own lives.

Do you want to know what is important to God? What are God’s priorities?  You look at Jesus.

And not only that – but God is not distant, or remote or ready to pounce and judge – no, Jesus invites us into a relationship – an intimate relationship – for when we open our hearts to others – we are at the same time opening our hearts to God – when we experience love and grace in any form, we experience the presence of Christ!

So, come and see – enter into a relationship with God, through Christ and see God living here among us.

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