Monday, December 27, 2010

the Life was the Light of all people

It's Evangelist John's version of the Christmas story:

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.
John 1:1-3a

"Word" in this passage is "logos" in Greek. Logos can be loosely translated into English as "word". Not simply those little clumps of letters separated by spaces--the ones I'm typing and that you are reading now. And we also shouldn't think of it as we often do in a modern sense when we talk about "the word of God" and mean our favorite illustrated, hard-bound, annotated and copyrighted version of the Bible. No, this logos is a living, Divine Agent that welds together words, thought and activity.
What has come into being in him was life, the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:3b-5
Logos in John begins with the same root as the second half of the compound terms we are so familiar with today. For example, the term psychology. Literally translated, psychology means "that which is known, said, thought and taught about the mind/soul continuum".
John tells us that this logos was there at "the beginning". That means, at creation. As if eternity could have a beginning. But we say and believe that the stuff that exists has a beginning.
This creative mind/soul continuum not only made all things but illuminates all things and has entered the created order of things with light. Light that is life. Life that is light.
Light by definition cannot do other than shine or it isn't light. Where light is, darkness cannot possibly be. Light is, by definition, by action, by illumination, the destroyer of darkness. Light is not absence. Light is presence. Darkness doesn't have to do anything. It can't do anything because it is the absence of everything.
Light has to be the presence of something. It has to do something. It has to shine. It has to be. It is. Therefore, what else could you call it but life?
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. John 1:6-8
Testify... Witness... English words with the same Greek antecedent: martyreo. Yes, one who testifies to or witnesses to is one who "martyrs" self to... In other words, one who demonstrates by their whole being what their psyche, their body/mind/soul continuum is about, what it is animated by, energized by, what it lives for. And by whom it lives.
The true light which enlightens everyone was coming into the world. John 1:9
According to John, this logos, this light, this life, is Jesus of Nazareth, the One God present in Jesus of Nazareth. Not only God made flesh, but God permeating and imbuing everything with something that does what light does. (See above discussion of the contrast between light and darkness.)
That photograph above? We took it on a short weekend at Cannon Beach, OR. August 2008. Jean knew something was not right but did not yet know that she had a brain tumor. Kiwi fruit-sized brain tumor.
In the days and weeks after the photo was taken, we would not so much remember the photo itself but the incredible, surrounding presence of the light that afternoon. After I had taken the shot, I looked back at Jean. She was in tears. "So beautiful!" she sobbed. "It's just so beautiful!"
That's what the Evangelist John is bringing with his symphony of basic Greek words: a witness to light that is life all around us and in us and through us.
Where darkness can no longer be because the Light has shined. Here. Arrived. Shining....
Merry Christmas, and thank you, John.
May the Light be with you all!
P.S. The word photography? Yeah, Greek too. It means "writing with light". Cool, huh?

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