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John 1:(1-9), 10-18

John’s Gospel opens the story of Jesus by jumping back to the beginning of creation: “In the beginning…” The beauty and splendor of God’s world is brought to mind. Everything is bountiful and ordered according to God’s Wisdom/Word (Logos). It is a good, good, good, good, good, good, VERY GOOD world! This is the backdrop for understanding the rest of John’s story. The Creation was a good and beautiful home to all of God’s creatures, including us.

Somewhere along the way, creation falls apart. The tenants of God’s world begin treating their home-world as if they are sole-owners, able to do whatever. The world collapse in on itself in chaos, hardly reflecting the once beautiful and holy world it once was. Violence, barrenness, shame, and death bruise this world with broken households, carnivorous societies, battered and abused victims, depleted resources and lands, and a desecrated ecosystems… and that’s only in the Book of Genesis. It may have been a good and beautiful creation at some point. It’s difficult to see the resemblance between the world now and the world as it once was. Try as we might, we can’t seem to get back to Eden.

I remember my mother climbing through the unlocked window as I held it up for her. The front door to the old house was locked. The tenants had vacated quickly in the night without paying overdue rent or returning the key. “Oh, my!” was the warning response I heard her exclaim. Mom went to unlock the front door as I walked around to the front steps. It took a moment for my eyes to adjust to the dark gloom in the house. Windows were covered with thick blankets and had been spray painted over with black and a sickly yellow spray paint. Even with the door open, the darkness was not easily pierced.

Slowly, I began to observe the dilapidated state of this once grand house. The wooden floors were warped and sloped. The floors were littered with trash – empty cans and bottles, clothing, used diapers. The stench was musty and putrid. It certainly tested the constitution of my stomach. The walls bowed and were missing patches of plaster. Ceilings were falling in from water damage. Lights didn’t work. Doors no longer closed due to settling. The house was an absolute disaster and it was hard to imagine that anything could be salvaged in the dump it had become. Perhaps this house was once a beautiful and loved place, but it now appears too far gone to save. Nobody in their right mind would live here. One thought came to mind: “Light a match and light it up. This house is beyond our ability to fix.”

We’ve treated God’s world in a similar manner. Even some brands of theology have given homage to “escapism.” It is a belief that this world is so far gone that God will just light a match and let it burn. What can be redeemed from such a broken world? How can the many problems that beset our world be fixed? The problems are too big, too beyond our capacity to change. We come from broken families, live in broken political systems, breath in the toxic fumes of greed and consumption. And if we don’t like it, we find it difficult to imagine any other possibilities open to us. This house is just too far gone: “Light a match and let it burn.”

John’s Gospel stops us short of such despair – not to negate the massive problems we face. John’s Gospel looks on the dilapidated, desperate state of this world and says that hope is possible even here. While we have been ready to let the place burn, God “moved into the neighborhood.” God put on flesh and dwelt (“tabernacled”) among us as one of us. Our home-world may have been too far gone for us to put back together, but God moved in, and like a master carpenter, said, “I think we can do something with this old house.” As St. Cyril once said, “The meeting ground between God and [humanity] is the flesh of Christ.” It is the flesh of Christ that demonstrates God’s own commitment to the creation, which includes our broken humanity. The Light of the World moved right onto the street corners of our darkened world and proclaimed that all can be made new.