Bishop Ger Nash
On Christmas Day, we hear the wonder of God sharing our human experience in the familiar story of Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus, the angels, shepherds and the manger. This first Sunday of the year we hear the same great event again but this time with different language. The Gospel today is the opening words of John’s Gospel – “In the beginning was the Word.” The starting point for this is that might and majesty of God, who created the universe and whose first and deepest was for us is that we should exist, that instead of nothing, there should be us and the whole universe. St John packs all that image of indescribable greatness, majesty and power into a single phrase “In the beginning was the Word”. And this Word of God left its greatness to be a fragile baby in a poor family in a very troubled world. There are many things we can say about this Word but today I’m just going to mention what should be a strong feature of any word and that feature is that it be True.
We are surrounded by Words today – radio, television, newspapers, internet, meetings and conversations of all kinds - so many that we find it hard to distinguish their quality.
How close do our words come to the Truth? We are frail human beings and as we tell every story, every sentence they are coloured by our humanity, our frailty. We tell things as we see them and because we see them with human eyes our stories, our words only tell the truth as we see it – a half a story. There is nothing wrong with this, we are not untruthful, just inarticulate people trying to make sense of a wonderful, confusing world. Only God, who is perfect Truth can speak a Word which is totally true. And this is Christmas, the baby born to Mary and Joseph is God’s Word. It was spoken two thousand years ago but unlike our human words, which disappear as soon as we say them, God’s Word resonates across the Universe, like an eternal echo which never dies away. As we enter a new Year, may our words be ones of truth, hope and love and in that way become echoes of the Word we celebrate today.
Minnie Louise Haskins wrote this poem for those standing at the entrance to a New Year as we are.
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.” And he replied: “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.” So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night. And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.
May our hands this year always be in the Hand of God.