Tuesday, 1 January 2013

New Beginnings

1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 
1:2 He was in the beginning with God. 
1:3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. (NASB)

There are some Christians I know who don't make much of Christmas or Easter. So the logic goes, we can celebrate the resurrection every day. Of course one can and should adopt this attitude, but it seems to me humans like marking events, indeed seem bound to do so. We celebrate birthdays (unless we fear death I think), anniversaries, make New Year resolutions, and so on. We like to celebrate beginnings, remember them and make new starts.

New Year resolutions are often poo-pooed as facile and not enduring, but it is a fair time to reflect, even if the choice of day seems somewhat arbitrary on the construction of a calender. And so it seems timely to reflect on new beginnings here.

The opening verses of John's Gospel act as an introduction to the whole book (unsurprisingly you might say), but does so in a very tight way; starting many of the major themes of the book. The language is a deliberate echo of Genesis 1. Jesus is the Word who becomes flesh (covered in later verses) and was with God and was God. In one sentence we have a theology that divides orthodox Christianity from other believes, that Jesus was God (and indeed is God). The Greek lacks an article before God, but translations of a God miss the point (anarthrous predicates for the technically minded). Jesus is God but not to be identified with YHWH without remainder - ah the mysteries of the Trinity.

But the point of my reflection is that Jesus is identified as creator because the gospel represents a new creation, a new start. Not an abandonment of the old, but its renewal. This begins (as we will see later) with the hoped for rebirth of Israel (the original meaning of being born again).

Now often this new creation is limited to the heart, or even the church. But really it is as all encompassing as the first creation was. Christianity is never a private affair, never simply a matter of private faith, but of public profession. This isn't the imposition of views, morals or conduct but the proclamation and living out of a new reality and the ongoing invitation to believe and receive (another topic for later). What this new creation implies we'll look at later. For now it's enough to ponder this first day of a new year that we live now in a new creation, a creation being renewed. This new creation is evidenced every time someone comes to faith, in every act of faith, love and justice, every time light is shone into darkness in the name of the light.

So, let your new year's resolution be to look for signs of the new creation, live out acts of new creation, because the creator has come to his creation.

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