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Newaygo United Methodist Church
Saturday, November 18, 2017
Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors

The Word Became Flesh

The Word Became Flesh

John 1:1-18

This week Joe and I had the privilege of being part of a 3 hour pre-surgery seminar on knee and hip replacement.  We got a whole notebook filled with what to expect, pre surgery actions and post surgery expectations.  The set of instructions included pre and post surgery expectations, what happens in the hospital and after one goes home.  Almost every aspect of what was to take place and how to prepare was covered.  At times the information was a bit overwhelming, but for the most part it was most helpful.  Joe wanted to know if it was alright for us to get a bell or a whistle to summon his “coach”, which was me.  And I made sure there was no such provision or suggestion in the manual.  I felt we were well prepared for surgery more so than at any other time when we faced the event of surgery.  Joe will be a little ornergy but he will do fine when he gets the hip replacement on Jan 21.

From the beginning God had a plan, but He knew there would have to be preparation for the plan to come into fulfilment.  He had already prepared His people for the event to come, promising through the prophets that a Messiah, a savior would come to save the people, to show them the way to live rightly.  Finally the time was right and God sent a precursor, one who would point to the messiah, one who prepared the way.  John was the one prepared to do just that.  He preached the need for repentance, for turning once again to God.  The people had gone astray and he was trying to bring them back, preaching and baptizing the return to God.  Many who would experience Jesus soon were baptized and prepared for the new teaching that was to come.

John stood out among people.  He dressed simply and ate oddly.  People took notice and many listened and came to be baptized by him.  He was a powerful force in his time.  Unfortunately he also roused the fears of the local officials.  He seemed to be setting the scene for Jesus to come on stage and at the same time feeding into the paranoia of those who wanted to maintain power, the elite of the religious system.  He rang a bell of warning in their heads:  “Look out for what is to come.”  The time for Jesus would not be an easy one.  Jesus would teach and do miracles to the backdrop of hatred and fear of those he seemed to oppose him..  Preparations were indeed being made in the hearts of people, both for the good of humankind and staging the setting for the ultimate victorious death and resurrection of Jesus. 

We do not come to our faith without a little preparation that God has already begun within us.  Faith is not formed in a vacuum.  From the day we are born God is busy working within us to draw us into faith.  First, God has created within us the innate desire to be in relationship with him.  It’s kind of like there is a hole inside us that needs to be filled.  This hole wants to be filled and the only way it can be filled is with a strong sense of God’s love and presence with us, having a full and good relationship with God, knowing about and doing what God wants. When we are children God works to strengthen the God desire.  A young child has a rudimentary sense of beauty and wonder and as he or she grows, different experiences begin to fill in the hole, even though he or she is not so conscious of the need or that it is God working with them.  As the child grows into adulthood, he or she increases in the capacity to know and label experiences of God.  If that adult has had experience in Sunday school or had other religious training, they are more likely to frame the longing inside them in reference to God and label deep, intimate experiences of awe, and longing as God experiences.  God has prepared the way for an adult to come into a fuller understanding of the person’s faith.  The way has been prepared for belief in Jesus as a specific way to understand and express faith to its fullest.  Jesus becomes a reality in a person’s life.  Prayer and scripture become alive and a meaningful way for the adult to relate to the entity he or she cannot see, hear, or touch develops.  Communication between the creator and the human becomes possible, because that is what God has prepared them for.

It is through allowing ourselves to acknowledge God experiences that our faith grows.  Each of us has been prepared in a unique way for being in relationship with God.  And each of us has a unique way to relate to God.  We have learned out own “God language”.  Some of us pray frequently, others pray when needed.  Some of us tune into God often, others when we are reminded.  But always God is there continuing to speak to us. 

But the main event God planned to get us into right living in His creation is the Jesus event.  In all human history there has never been an event like it.  The Creator had never taken the form of human and come to show us how to walk in the Garden of Eden in the cool of the evening.  That’s the best way I know how to explain a deep and solid relationship with God.  God does not want this world to be so torn and divided and angry and violent, and us versus they.  God wants this world to be at peace.  And it will be someday.  But for now we struggle with living in peace.  We will continue to see opposition, hatred, violence, struggles for power.  But at least in our sphere of influence we can make a difference.  Through our faith we have been given the ability to live in love with our neighbor, to help those in need, to address injustices and to live as God wants us to live.  We have Jesus to guide us.  We can pay attention to his words, to his teaching, to his Spirit placed within us when we accepted him as Lord and savior of our lives. 

Perhaps this is the year to make a resolution to learn how to follow Jesus even better than the year before.  Perhaps this is the year to learn more about what Jesus said and did and does in our lives.  Perhaps this is the year to practice what he preached even better, to resolve to read and follow his words.  Perhaps when we come to the communion table this morning we can make a new resolution to be better disciples.  But you know, we can’t do it alone.  We need to listen to the Spirit within us, gather with others who want to know and be, pray often and learn more about what Jesus said and did.  Perhaps this is the year God has prepared us for all of our lives, to know and live that deep life of faith that fills the longing within us.

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