Sunday, December 2, 2018

The Enduring Word

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
—Luke 21:33

There is no Big Bang Theory in Christian theology. But there’s something quite similar. Before there was a universe, there was the potential for all that is. Before there was a sound, there was an unspoken word. And at the moment that unspoken word was spoken, then the creative forces of God were put in motion. Genesis 1 describes the beginning of creation as the speaking of a word. And John 1 describes the beginning as having been brought about through the word of God. And so before there was anything, there was a word. And today Jesus tells us that after all that we know has ceased to exist, the word will abide.

This is all just so much theology, I suppose. But for those of us who believe, it is everything. When we are oppressed or tired, it is good to know that the world’s discouragement will pass away, but that the promise of Jesus cannot die: Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
—Matt. 11:28-30

When I am drowning in my own guilt, and those around me remind me how bad I am, then there must be some assurance in knowing that this, too, will pass, but what cannot be removed from my reality are the words of the One who said, Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.
—Matt. 9:2

There are many in the church who want to limit the love of God and tell some that they’re not welcome. As long as this view has held sway, it is a temporary opinion. Nothing more. For Christ himself said that God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
—John 3:16

Eternal life is good news, but it also reminds us that as long as we’re in the world, the end of life remains a reality. But the words of Christ will outlive death: Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
—Matt. 5:4

The world we live in is so filled with resentment and strife. It seems as though tribalism is what we were created for. It’s been around since the beginning of the human race, and there’s no reason to think that it will ever come to an end. But it will. And when it does, these words will still be around: This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.
—John 15:12-17

It’s hard for us to remember that the word that was spoken at creation and whose incarnation we celebrate at Christmas was itself resented by his contemporaries. And yet, though we love the Baby in the manger, what he stood for is still resented by the powers of this world. When refugees are turned away, when children are teargassed and migrant families separated, when a few are fed and the rest go hungry, we are reminded that the Christ we say we love was not and is not welcome in a world that doesn’t want to become new. And so the wood of the cradle becomes the wood of the cross. And yet, the Lord Jesus, on the night when he was betrayed, took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’
—1 Cor. 11:23-25

This feast we’re about to celebrate is a visible representation of the eternal word. So come and partake of eternity, for no matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you’re welcome here at the Lord’s table. And no matter who you are to the world or where you are in life, these words, too, were spoken to and for you: And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
—Matt. 28:20

—©2018 Sam L. Greening, Jr.