Sunday Soundings…My Grandparents and the Gospel of John.

A very happy and peaceful new year to one and all! And it is with a firm and hopefully a permanent slam of the door that we say goodbye to 2020. No doubt the overspill will live with us all for many a year to come.

This brief “sounding” on this week’s Lectionary reading from the Gospel of John verses 1 to 18 is a very personal reflection drawn from some cherished memories of my Grandparents, George and Dot Averley.

For many years my family home and my Uncle’s home was next door to each other and my Grandparents lived with my Uncle, Auntie and family. They were surrounded by noisy teenagers, busy comings and goings, in-laws and family friends dropping by and much love and practical care.

As a teenager my Mum would have sent me across a few times a week to my Uncle’s house in order to help my Grandfather get shaved and dressed…particularly as he became more infirm with the onset of Parkinson’s disease.

At times I must confess I resented this “chore”. I had things to do, school to get ready for or whatever I deemed important at that point. I was impatient, not aware of the importance of spending very personal time with my Granddad, helping him and indeed the whole family.

On some of these occasions, I would arrive into my Uncle’s house, to find Papa and Nana in their dressing gowns reading from the Bible and saying their morning devotions. Praying for the family one by one.

Sometimes I sat in, sometimes I stood outside the door impatiently waiting.

So, I hear you ask, “What has all of this to do with the opening chapter of the Gospel of John?”

Well, this…

When I did join my Grandparents for their brief time of devotion and actually sat with them, more often or not Papa would have read slowly and deliberately from John 1. And, even as a teenager, somehow, I got it that my Grandfather’s life and faith and indeed his last few years, he saw and understood, as being caught up in the enormity of John Chapter 1. The Word of God, the “Logos”, Eternal, Mysterious, yet somehow made real in the birth of a Jewish baby boy. John 1 was more than a reading for my Grandparents. With years of hindsight I wonder if the magnificence of the story of “…the Word became flesh…” provided a framework and much assurance for my Grandparents particularly in their latter years.

I have no doubt that the grace and peace my Grandparents gave and received, in no small measure, arose from their belonging to a much bigger story, that of God acting throughout human history in the gift of His Son.

With all its…

Wonder, Mystery, Fragility and Glory.

This week’s Lectionary reading is worth reflecting upon in its entirety.

But, as you do so and as you look towards 2021, what story will you allow yourself to get caught up into?

I, for one, am forever grateful that Nana and Papa throughout their lives shared their story with me and opened up for me “God’s story” and my place in it.

The Life-Light

1-2 The Word was first,
the Word present to God,
    God present to the Word.
The Word was God,
    in readiness for God from day one.

3-5 Everything was created through him;
    nothing—not one thing!—
    came into being without him.
What came into existence was Life,
    and the Life was Light to live by.
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
    the darkness couldn’t put it out.

6-8 There once was a man, his name John, sent by God to point out the way to the Life-Light. He came to show everyone where to look, who to believe in. John was not himself the Light; he was there to show the way to the Light.

9-13 The Life-Light was the real thing:
    Every person entering Life
    he brings into Light.
He was in the world,
    the world was there through him,
    and yet the world didn’t even notice.
He came to his own people,
    but they didn’t want him.
But whoever did want him,
    who believed he was who he claimed
    and would do what he said,
He made to be their true selves,
    their child-of-God selves.
These are the God-begotten,
    not blood-begotten,
    not flesh-begotten,
    not sex-begotten.

14 The Word became flesh and blood,
    and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
    the one-of-a-kind glory,
    like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
    true from start to finish.

15 John pointed him out and called, “This is the One! The One I told you was coming after me but in fact was ahead of me. He has always been ahead of me, has always had the first word.”

16-18 We all live off his generous bounty,
        gift after gift after gift.
    We got the basics from Moses,
        and then this exuberant giving and receiving,
    This endless knowing and understanding—
        all this came through Jesus, the Messiah.
    No one has ever seen God,
        not so much as a glimpse.
    This one-of-a-kind God-Expression,
        who exists at the very heart of the Father,
        has made him plain as day.

In memory of George and Dot Averley. Rest in peace and rise in glory.

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