There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. ( John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me. ’”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
There is a great Bible verse buried in the last chapters of the book of Job. After Job has lost everything; after his friends have said their piece and gone on; after Job’s wife has had her say; after Job has had his say, God speaks. He calls Job to account, he challenges his assumptions. He makes Job embrace the reality of God’s true nature and being. Job is undone, he has nowhere to go, no defense for his accusatory attitude toward God. Then the line: “Before I have heard of you. Now I have seen you and I repent in dust and ashes.”
When theory becomes reality, the reality tends to be more real and far-reaching than we might imagine. Such was the case of Jesus’ entry into time and history. The Word became flesh. He dwelt among us. We beheld his glory. The world experienced grace and truth. But it was nothing like anyone expected. Even Jesus’ closest disciples often had it wrong. But the Word is full not only of grace but also of truth. And when we embrace the truth, the grace of God in Christ embraces us.
Many peoples’ lives are defined these days with the aftermath of the tornado in Moore, OK. The recovery process following the destruction of that storm and the human tragedy of lives lost and possessions gone will occupy their waking and sleeping moments for some time. Others, however, are dealing with all manner of personal realities. A check of Face Book this morning yielded news of the death of a member of St. John after a long battle with cancer and a host of life challenges. But there was also news of a high school student graduating suma cum laude – a time for great joy. My world is defined these days by the challenge of learning just what sabbatical really means: I’m not certain I’m there just yet.
Ultimate reality, however, lies in God. And when we embrace his grace and truth in Jesus we are best prepared to deal with the realities of life: joys, sadness, tragedies, and uncertainties of all kinds. That is how I want to lean into this day: getting real with God, for all of life flows from him.