painting of family seated around a table at night

Reflecting on John 1 1-14

What do we think this text is telling us? About God? About the Word and Life and Light and Truth? About … What else? The mysterious verses of John 1:1-14, our text for Sunday, July 3, confront us with this question, perhaps above all. They seem to call us, if any Scripture does, to “meditate” on them and watch the connections between the ideas, and between those ideas and other things in our world, multiply and spread out. [Some notes on the text are here.] Here are a couple of other questions we might want to reflect on, or discuss:

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We might want to consider our personal histories with this text. For instance: did we ever memorize it? When? Why? Have we heard it in church? Again, when? Do we remember anything about that, or anything people have said about it? What have we learned about it? Do we notice any of that making a difference when we read the text now? What difference?

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What effect does reading this text have on us? Thoughts that come to mind? Feelings? Images? [For instance, I always think of a dark sky with stars. Always.] Does anything in the text really stand out for us? What is that? Why, do we think?

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Would we say this is a “creation story”? Why? What is being created?

Would we say this is a “birth story”? Why? What birth?

How is that creation, or that birth, related to us?

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The text sets up a contrast between “the world,” “his own,” and those who receive and believe. What can we tell from the text about that contrast? What does the author seem to be telling us about “the world”? About “his own”? Are there any implications of that for receiving and believing? What are they, do we think?

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This seems to be one of those texts that is begging us to use the method of lectio divina. It may be that the more we simply sit with the text, and let its words sink into and speak to our minds and hearts, the more we will see in it, and the deeper the impression it can make on us.

Since we are meant to be thinking about our participation in God’s new creation this summer, we might also want to spend some time thinking about how these verses at the beginning of the gospel of John orient us to God’s new creative endeavor. Where and how do we see or hear creation going on in the text, and how does that creation seem to involve us? [e.g., deeply, or superficially? Voluntarily, or necessarily? Any particular mood(s)? …]

Ultimately, as usual, we will want to ask ourselves whether this text exerts any impact on our lives – asking us any questions, for instance, or calling us to any small or great change. This is such a famous text, the temptation may be to skim over it, feeling “we’ve already done this.” But if we slow down and give it a chance to work on us, we may find we’ll have a different experience.

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impressionistic view of family members around a table lit by an oil lamp

Image: “A Family Around a Table,” Julius Paulsen (1919), public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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