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Revd Sara's Reflections for w/c 4th February 2024

Revd Sara’s Reflection Sunday 4th February 2024

There are several theories about how John’s prologue; John 1.1-14 was composed. One compares this with attempting to iron a pleated garment in a way that makes the pleats go in another direction. I like that expresses how we absorb the Fourth Gospel’s viewpoint, even though we cannot be sure which community produced it, or how it was compiled, or how it relates to other New Testament theologies. The moment we look behind what we know, trying to reconstruct origins, we are working against the grain. We can press and press the fabric, but the original configuration is still imprinted.

We must not lose sight of the fundamental power in John’s enigmatic prologue. It was not written to keep theologians on a gravy train of metaphysical speculation, but to speak plainly to its audience, as “good news”: as an introduction to the salvation story of Jesus Christ. Its purpose, in every verse, is proclaiming that good news.

We do not need to know the historical “how” and “why” of the prologue’s composition before we can make sense of it. It is sensible to take it as it seems: an introductory section, providing a divine context for the human Jesus, and directing how we “read” him from the moment of his first public action (being baptised: 1.29). Taking the text as we find it is not intellectually lazy. It is simply an admission that we have the document as Christians have encountered it from the end of the first century. In this form, they have found it to be both faithful and meaningful and so can we.

John quickly focuses his attention on humankind and human nature. Even if we found clinching proof that John the Baptist was a prosaic intrusion into the poetry of some hypothetical hymn, it would make no difference to the point of John the Evangelist’s placing him there. The so-called intrusion exists to put it beyond doubt that, however holy a human being could be, however truth-full his message, “he was not that light.” The true light is Christ, and none other. The calling of every holy human being is “to bear witness to that light”.

The message of this Gospel is so mind-bogglingly important, so ineffably precious, that I must express as plainly as possible what I believe to be its message, but wait the Gospel has done that already. “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.”

With love and prayers Revd Sara

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