Welcome to the Society of Saint John the Evangelist

Week 2 Day 1: In the Beginning

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
John 1:1

In the Beginning
Jesus is God’s way of speaking to us – God’s Word, you might say.

-Br. Mark Brown



Transcript:

The theme for this second week is God’s love as it is revealed in and through Jesus Christ. The topic for today is “In the Beginning”. I’ll read the very first verse of the first chapter of the Gospel of John. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

This, of course, has echoes of the very beginning of Genesis. John is consciously rhyming with that beginning of Genesis. It’s also mysterious and paradoxical and ambiguous. It may be the most mysterious, paradoxical and ambiguous verse of the Bible. If you read very closely and if you translate closely it gets even stranger. If we translate very closely it would be “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was toward God and the Word was God.” No translator knows quite what to do with that, so we have “the Word was with God”.

Then, a few verses later we read that this Word, which was with or toward and was God, was made flesh in Jesus of Nazareth. The Word comes into being into the world as a human being, as flesh, as fleshly human being. Jesus is God’s way of speaking to us – God’s Word, you might say. We might say God, who is love, speaks the word of love in Jesus Christ. We also read in this very first few verses of the Gospel of John that through Christ, through the living Word, light comes into the world, life comes into the world. Not only grace, but grace upon grace, comes into the world, and truth comes into the world through Jesus Christ. This is a huge, huge chapter of the Gospel of John, a huge, huge opening verse of the Gospel of John.

I think we could pray with this in multiple ways. Maybe the wisest is simply to sit silently before the great mystery and paradox of God. Or, we might reflect on our own humanity as made in the image and likeness of God, in the flesh, incarnate as Jesus was incarnate in the flesh. We might ask ourselves if there’s one word spoken by my life in this world, what would that word be? Does my life speak love? Does my life speak light? Does my life speak life or grace or truth? These are all possibilities. What is the word that your life is speaking?

We invite you to share your answer in the comments below or using #MeetingJesus

56 Comments

  1. Dorothy Wilson on March 18, 2018 at 06:44

    Instinct, My husband tells me that I have good instincts about people’s needs. I feel it is a gift from God, opening oneself to Jesus & the Holy Spirit. I felt led by the Spirit to buy the Imatation of Jesus for my friend. My friend loved the book.

  2. Mary Anderson on February 28, 2018 at 00:07

    We might ask ourselves if there’s one word spoken by my life in this world, what would that word be?

    The one word that comes to mind is “love”. God’s love for me and my love of God drives me to do the things that I do. Not always, of course, but this is what I strive for. When I don’t know what to do, or if too many distractions interfere with my actions and thoughts, I look toward God and the love that he has given us in the form of his son Jesus Christ. I ask myself what would Jesus do?

  3. Cynthia R.D. Dixon on February 26, 2018 at 21:11

    The word that comes to mind is, “COMPASSION”.
    Even though I do not feel it always present for myself, I have compassion for those around me. I have always had this feeling in my life and know Jesus showed compassion. I am trying to accept this compassion for myself due to the fact ” I know Jesus loves me and wants only the best for me, whatever His plan may be.
    This lent season, to grow and know that He also loves me, not who I think others say I should be.
    Blessed for this study and the comments that have been left.
    Come, Holy Spirit, Come. Please fall afresh on each one. Including even me”. May God be Bless.

  4. Shirley on February 26, 2018 at 19:21

    Forgiveness…

  5. James Rowland on February 25, 2018 at 23:55

    The word my life speaks now is “longing”.
    For the Spirit, for life in its fullness, for connection.

  6. Irma Crepps on February 25, 2018 at 05:07

    God’s Word is Jesus. Plain and simple.

  7. Irma Crepps on February 25, 2018 at 05:06

    God’s Word=Jesus.

  8. Jack in B.C. on February 24, 2018 at 23:15

    I am really struck by and captivated by this idea that the Word is “toward” God as well as actually being God. Like a finger, or sign, that points to the Divine (as I saw Susan observed earlier and that caught my attention). So, what is the “word” my life is speaking? Whatever that word is, may it also be a sign that points toward God – love, grace, joy, truth, insight etc…. Many “words” point towards the Divine, but what is the distinctive word that I am that characterizes my life – a word that I am, that is unique and defining (if that is possible) of me. What is my word? Who am I? This seems more a question to ponder (over time) than it is to answer too quickly. I am thinking of the things toward which I am drawn and that lift my heart for clues as to what that word might be… beauty, silence, stillness, sunshine, delight in the world, in being (literally) a “word made flesh” – affirmation of life, despite everything… The other piece of this, for me, is that the word is not only “toward” God but also “is” God. This speaks to me of realizing our Divine nature (as children of God, who are born not of blood…) by living lives that point towards the Divine. We become a sacrament of God: i.e. a sign or symbol that embodies (enfleshes, incarnates) that which toward which it points or symbolizes. Wow!

  9. Bob Bagioni on February 24, 2018 at 21:32

    I could use every word that has appeared in the comments. But what stands out is the “sharing” with each person and “supporting” of others. This is what the word means to me. We “share” our love of Jesus with each other and the world and we “support” each other in our journey through life.

  10. Jean (Sue) Schmidt on February 24, 2018 at 19:43

    I am so very thankful for God and HOW he wants us to live!!!

  11. barry fernley on February 24, 2018 at 03:59

    I believe that god speaks through the gift of healing that He has given me this is shown in testimonies that comes after the event it surprises me I am a simply a wounded servant who seeks to care for people through my humanity using this gift and others tio glorify His name

  12. Mary on February 23, 2018 at 21:52

    I would like my life to speak love, light, grace and truth, but then all the ways I fail at those come to mind. Too often I judge others critically, feel selfish, hide my light under a basket, let fear overtake me, turn a blind eye to someone in need. Yet, God never meant for us to be all things to all people, no one can possibly be. I guess the consistent theme is a persistent desire to know God better, to hear his voice. Those times I do, are pure delight. Almost ecstasy. I guess my word would be Seeker.

  13. Jennifer A on February 23, 2018 at 18:09

    All these words, love, grace, discovery….but I think most of all for me is Beauty. Even since I was a child, it has been beauty that is my window on the divine. Beauty in nature, from the tiniest first shoot of a snowdrop in February, to the ocean waves, bird song, a sunrise as loud as trumpets, a magical night in fall, to poetry, art, and music – which has been my career, music mostly in the service of the church, where I seek to use my gifts to open that window on the divine for others. Dorothy Day once said the world would be saved by Beauty, and I think she was on to something!

  14. Regis Smolko on February 23, 2018 at 17:18

    John begging the story of Jesus eternally before all other Gospel writers. Mark begins the Jesus story at Jesus at 30 years old. Matthew feels it important to go as far back as Jesus birth and conception, and since Jesus was a Jew to connect his beginnings with Abraham. Luke feels the need to go back even further and takes Jesus’s beginning to Adam because Jesus is so closely connected to the human race. All Gospel writers had conditions that were being addressed and began the Jesus story for their readers uniquely. It behoves us to gain from all these beginnings.

    That John starts the Jesus story at Genesis 1:1 takes me to that divinity-opening question: What was Jesus called before he was called Jesus? So beautifully John call the God-Jesus, the Logos–the reason why. John grappled with his days christological problem of Jesus as fully human and fully divine. He does it magnificently. Jesus was fully with God and of God–today’s reflection. Jesus as fully human is as beautifully handled by lines such as “He wept.”

    So who were we before we became known by our name? Where were we before God decided we arrive? My discovery capability of God seems only possible in light of God first loving me into existence and I get a fleeting moment from time to time that feels as if I remember it well.

    The word for my life is re-discovery.

  15. David John Drew on February 21, 2018 at 23:03

    O God in Jesus,

    in my meditation in silence I perceived endless spirals of time in space that emerge from the single point that is you alone… before which, there was nothing but your infinite presence, solitary, complete and perfect in nature. From a single seed, a word, came forth all that we now know in existence… from the bursting of that seed the universe grew, multiplied and expanded as a creative light in the darkness, dividing and coming together to create multiple forms and bodies – all that was once only a deep thought, became a spoken command, that in turn came to be manifest in diverse interconnected interdependent physical shapes – the world and cosmos that we see, feel, hear, smell and touch. Something of you, a trace, a bond or a spark of your Divine presence is discoverable in everything. Life as we know it cannot be without you. My mind traces back to that single moment in time and space – to the beginning, when you made yourself manifest, in silent solitude. Through countless ages and revolutions in time you filled space with your Divinity, and the space emerged as your body. The song that consumes my heart and mind this week is the ancient Irish hymn ‘Be Thou my Vision’ –

    “Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart
    Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
    Thou my best Thought, by day or by night
    Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light…

    Heart of my own heart, whate’er befall
    Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.”

    Lord, you are ever constant in change, both simple and complex, echoing as ripples in time and space, making it possible to be in communion, to be ever-present with you – to sense your sacred presence in every moment, you are truly the heart of my heart. One pure word, perfect in expression assumed many forms and dimensions – became a symphony orchestrated in which all things are held in balance, related and connected – each with its own peculiar pathway back to the essential origin of its existence – the primeval revelation, the birth, genesis, the word.

    O Ancient of Days, your word was ‘Christ’ – the Name in which I find my true dwelling. Christ, in, by and through whom all things persist and have their being.

    Lord Jesus, as Christ your word lives in me… it nourishes and sustains through all stages and phases of life – from inception into the world, to death and beyond. You hold me, carry me, enlighten and live within me in a profound and mysterious way. Like an unbreakable thread it connects me to your eternal presence.

    Lord Jesus Christ, I pray that you be the vision, the way and the heart of all people – and guide them to their eternal destiny.

    + Amen

    Pax – David.

    • Doris on March 7, 2018 at 21:36

      Your prayers touch my heart and bless my soul. Thank you for sharing them.

  16. Rick E. on February 21, 2018 at 19:57

    Wow. What are the possibilities that would result from our living in a constant “turning toward God, the WORD”, and allowing the Holy Spirit acceptance of our repentance ?

  17. Maureen on February 20, 2018 at 20:41

    Words that describe this journey to date include surrender, abiding in stillness, welcoming the Word that transforms the brokenness of my human nature. To be graced with God’s unconditional Love is beyond amazing. Thank you for this offering that sustains spirit and gives the opportunity to grow in friendship with the Master.

  18. Dean Peters on February 20, 2018 at 03:09

    Love our children – Love our grandchildren – may God protect them in our schools

  19. Nicki on February 20, 2018 at 02:34

    Probe – learn – uncover – discover – understand- all with God’s love and acceptance

  20. Marilyn WIlder on February 20, 2018 at 00:18

    What word would describe my life…”stumbling”; stumbling toward God.

  21. Jaan Sass on February 20, 2018 at 00:04

    Susan God love’s you and we are all broken in some way whether, by disability, fear, failures, loneliness, mental issues, all of us have the monster in the living room for some the challenge is greater. I know that all I see is what I wanted to be not what I am currently. God does not see us as physically broken, failure-ridden, lonely and unwanted he invites us to embrace his love.
    I struggle to see where My life has given love or light to someone else but all I can do is love God and Move forward.

  22. James on February 19, 2018 at 22:58

    The invisible God was made visible through Christ. But even before Jesus became flesh to dwell among us, God’s presence was made know through his creation.

    From my vantage point this crisp winters morn, God’s creation is abundantly evident. The majestic snow-capped mountains, the verdant crispness of the evergreen trees, and the icy concrete stillness of the inlet waters are a constant reminder of the splendor and all encompassing presence of our creator and Lord.

    Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Not a way, a truth, or a life but THE Way, THE Truth, and The Life. How fortunate we are to be living in times such as this, where everyone is exposed the His truth. I often think how fabulous it would have been to know Jesus when he walked the earth, to come to the realization that only through His death and Resurrection am I able to fully know Him.

    In the coming end times as in the beginning is the Word, and the Word IS with God, and the Word Is God. God’s word is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Hallelujah, praise the Lord!

  23. Rodney on February 19, 2018 at 22:50

    I would like to use the the following words…
    LOVE, Love for my friends, co-workers, parents and children…
    LIGHT, For the light I saw while I was battling cancer..
    SPIRIT, for the spirit within me..
    LIFE, for the life I live…
    SHARING, being able to share my story and battle, knowing there is hope.
    FAITH, the faith in believing..
    HOPE, in GOD’s word to help me through my troubled times

    I Corinthians 13;13 The greatest of all theses is love..

  24. Beverly on February 19, 2018 at 22:41

    Through Grace, I’m called to be a “harbinger of hope,” bringing a glimmer of light to dark places—my own and others’.

  25. Maggie Cole on February 19, 2018 at 20:58

    Take the word WORD and add the letter L for LOVE -for God is Love and my Word is WORLD!

  26. Robin Bergh on February 19, 2018 at 20:45

    Susan, I join with all the others who are praying for you that you would know Gods deep and abiding love. He is there in that darkness that you are feeling. I too have been healed from darkness and despair. My first step was asking Jesus into my heart.

  27. Debbie Deppe on February 19, 2018 at 19:57

    Love for our children. I see so many in class that simply need to know that I love them as they are and understand that God loves them.

  28. Susan Oldrieve on February 19, 2018 at 07:01

    I really like the idea of the Word being toward God–like the Buddhist Idea of pointing to the moon, it speaks to me of suggesting God, directing our eyes towards God, leading us to think of God. But unlike the Buddhist finger, this Word actually IS God. So we are with God when we are in the Word or It is in us, and we are also looking towards God, being drawn to God at the same time. Because God is omnipresent, eternal always stretching beyond our view, He can be in us and ahead of us at the same time, and it must of necessity be so.

    And yes, because we embody the Holy Spirit, we, too, are now the living Word of God, pointing others and ourselves towards God, leaning towards him, while at the same time being His Image and holding Him within us.

    • Bishop Hollywood on February 19, 2018 at 22:17

      I have always admired the opening of the Gospel of John because it reminds the reader that God, who is omnipotent, can do the impossible. The impossible which led him here in the flesh and dwelt amongst us. The true essence of love in my opinion.

    • Jack in B.C. on February 24, 2018 at 22:48

      I too like that idea of the Word pointing toward God, but also actually and paradoxically being God… brings to mind echoes of Trinitarian theology with the persons of the Trinity being one but at the same time three – the Word points towards God and also is God. Thank you! Maybe, if I also am to be a word (in the flesh, in the world), my “word,” i.e. me, is also by my life to point towards God. We become signposts, and the Gospel of John is full of “signs”!

  29. Susan too on February 19, 2018 at 04:16

    My life has spoken many words in the past; shame, fear, imposter… I joined the Anglican church about six years ago, following a deep personal crisis that a priest, with her loving and prayerful council, helped me recover from and move forward. Last week, through the Meeting Jesus in John process, I felt my heart truly opening to recieve God’s love more fully than ever. The commentary by the Brothers, questions posed and reflections suggested were simple and deep at the same time. Today, as I move forward, my word is Trust. Thank you, SSJE.

    • Meg on February 20, 2018 at 00:39

      Thanks be to God!

  30. Radha Swamy 18-2-2018 on February 19, 2018 at 04:13

    Hi Susan you are beautiful because God made you in his image.God is with you no matter how you are he loves you unconditionally he will never leave you nor forsake you. I will pray to God that he will give peace and comfort to you.No matter how feel or what you go through he is in the midst and he will take you through.God Bless You

    • Susan too on February 21, 2018 at 00:23

      Thank you so much for your prayer and loving words of support, Radha. They have gone straight to my heart.

  31. Jennifer on February 19, 2018 at 03:50

    Truth

  32. Robert on February 19, 2018 at 03:20

    What words do we speak? Sometimes I feel we’re all still at the stage of that Tower in Babel: confused, jumbled. Our Lent reflections can help find the key words by which to live in Him: faith, hope and love.

  33. Tom Simpson on February 18, 2018 at 23:48

    For me, these first verse words of the Gaspel of John are neither mysterious, paradoxical or ambiguous but a powerful statement identifing God as the Word for all things no matter if you prefer to use “with” or “towards”. And further “was made flesh in Jesus of Nazareth”, only puts in to place the presense of Jesus without the mysterious, paradoxical or ambiguous birth as presented in Matthew and Luke. Now I can focus on the Love of God along with The First commandment given to us by Jesus , to Love the Lord you god with all your mind…etc
    Maybe my mind is to simple for the views of the Brothetrs, but i also believ that Jesus was trying to keep it simpsle for us.
    Thank you for keeping us inspiired and educated.

  34. Richard Dixon on February 18, 2018 at 21:22

    I found this question incredibly difficult to answer.Some of the possibilities included characteristics I dislike in myself. After a while i feel that “seeking’ is my word. Seeking to get closer to my Lord, seeking, yes, to demonstrate His love in my thoughts, words and deeds. But I have peace because I know God loves me and is doing stuff in my life. His timing is fine by me.
    Thank you Brother Mark for the challenge of your question.

  35. Bev Cone on February 18, 2018 at 20:28

    For Bryan,
    Discovery – what a wonderful word, which has brought all sorts of wondrous thoughts to me this morning. I had assumed I would say my one word is Joy – and that is a huge part of my life, but discovery can include even more about me – as I strive to reach out and appreciate more and more of life through Jesus Christ.
    Lots to think about, and lots to try! Thanks, Bryan

  36. Susan Marengo on February 18, 2018 at 19:13

    The translation “…toward God” makes more sense to me. Aren’t we always trying to move “toward God”? I love the question “Does my life speak love”? I think that is something to post in your car around your home and where you work.

    I can hear the brothers better on my cell phone than my computer.

  37. Bryan Cook on February 18, 2018 at 18:48

    This opening statement “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” and the start of the Book of Genesis are very difficult for me to grasp.

    I do not believe they are talking about physical creation of our universe in the cosmos…..we are learning more and more about that daily. I think the early writers of scripture and the apostles were grappling with how describe the imbuing of all things, animate and inanimate with a Soul in the hierachy of souls which derive from the ultimate soul, God. The force which fuels this hierachy is Love. Souls are the blueprints of Life.

    The Word from ancient times has been the primary mechanism of communicating the news, in this case Good News from which we derive the word Gospel. So I think that the biblical writers were using the most powerful word they knew to define the creation of spirituality in the context of a unifying God among many idols.

    I believe in the Holy Trinity…God as the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, with the Holy Ghost as the Holiest of Souls. I also belive in other Trinities such as Recovery, Unity, Service; Serenity, Courage, Unity; and Physical, Mental, Spritiual. Trinities provide a framework for my daily life.

    The most definig word in my life is Discovery, a constant source of amazement and joy. I am still discovering the joy of communicating with and through the Holy Trinity.

    • Deborah on March 20, 2018 at 06:11

      I believe that Discovery is best suited for my life. All others mentioned are there in the word discovery. Even for me, discovery is like refresh, renew, continue, seek, amaze, wonder, choose, refrain, proceed, refuse, challenge, pursue and every moment that we discover we want the security of that moment to keep moving forward in adulation of God’s “ness”: oneness, completeness, nourishment, all the positives of His love, joy, hope and so on, as the Holy Spirit provides in Jesus becoming His word in the flesh. Numbers says it too: line upon line, It begins and builds as we move towards God in the new “ness” of life.

  38. Betsey on February 18, 2018 at 18:09

    Hopeful

    • Heather on February 19, 2018 at 20:21

      Constant. Through ups and downs in my life, there have been lots of unjoyous times, incredible stress, but God, though not always directly experienced, was always there with me

  39. Keith Aldred on February 18, 2018 at 18:03

    God will show us the way, if we trust Him. May all His children be open to Him.

  40. Susan on February 18, 2018 at 17:05

    My life is broken. I am lonely. I am ugly. I am old. I am unlovable.
    God is not speaking to me. I will never recover. Never be the same.
    I need to move on but I am a prisoner in my body.

    • Susan on February 18, 2018 at 17:17

      Read Healed by Kate Moorehead!

      • Suzanne Haraburd on February 18, 2018 at 17:43

        Thank You

    • Betsey on February 18, 2018 at 18:11

      Someone needs you.

    • Cheryl on February 18, 2018 at 18:40

      Susan, in His name, I speak other words to and over and around you. I speak wholeness, I speak beauty, tenderness. I speak boldly that you are surrounded in Him and in us here too. I speak the truth that regardless of your physical reality you are loved and are NOT alone. Bathe in these truths today. Say them to yourself out loud. Today is the day when you step into the freedom He means for you. In Him, I speak the word encouragement to you today!

    • Barbara Tawater on February 18, 2018 at 20:20

      You will and can recover. You are already on the right track to do so. Prayers to you.

    • Alison Inglis on February 18, 2018 at 20:29

      Dear Susan. It makes me sad to hear you say this about yourself! It sounds like you are DEPRESSED, and isolated……..having been healed, over the years, by God’s amazing love, all I can encourage you to do is to cry out to God to help you. He does love you, and He is here for you. Speaking “thankfulness” is a very good way to combat deep self loathing……..try it!

  41. John David Spangler on February 18, 2018 at 16:48

    For myself this is the key line in Scripture and forms the basis for my life. Indeed, the Gospel of John speaks all. The balance of the Bible is for me something extra, not extraneous but not essential to my belief. Through the Gospel of John that, as Brother Mark says, Christ and God’s grace came into the world. Again, it is as Brother Mark wrote: This is a huge, huge chapter of the Gospel of John, a huge, huge opening verse of the Gospel of John.. Indeed, the Gospel of John is huge, huge. The Word speaks to my life: love; light; life; grace; and truth. I strive to live up to these words. I thank the Brothers and all participants for helping to meet Jesus more completely. Peace!

  42. Ruth rogers on February 18, 2018 at 16:35

    Love

    • Christopher on February 24, 2018 at 19:11

      I would say that my life speaks of faith, love and hope.

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