Today, we look at a Day 4 text from this year’s summer curriculum, “Holy Trinity, Wholly Love.”
Reading: John 1:1-5 (NRSV)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
Last Friday, we talked about how the Father wasn’t the only one who created the universe: the Holy Spirit was there, too. Today’s reading shows us that creation was a team effort: all three persons of the Trinity had a part to play.
In the first chapter of John’s gospel, we hear John refer to Jesus as “the Word.” That’s a weird name to give to Jesus. Maybe, like me, you’ve heard it so many times that you don’t question it. But let’s be honest: it’s a strange name. Where does it come from?
Ancient Greek philosophers referred to something called the logos. PBS’s online glossary defines it well: “A principle originating in classical Greek thought which refers to a universal divine reason, immanent in nature, yet transcending all oppositions and imperfections in the cosmos and humanity. An eternal and unchanging truth present from the time of creation, available to every individual who seeks it.” The logos is the heart of truth, the first “real thing,” the source of all wisdom and knowledge. Greek philosophers dedicated themselves to seeking and understanding this logos.
Logos can be translated a few ways, most commonly as “thing” or as “word.” The first verse of John reads: in the beginning was the logos (that thing, the word). Most Greek philosophers reading John’s gospel would take no issue with what John writes in the first five verses. They would agree. The logos (wisdom, truth, reality) was with God at creation? Sure. The logos is God but is also different from God? Absolutely. The logos triumphs over evil and darkness? You bet!
The scandalizing thing would come a few verses later when John declares “and the logos became flesh and dwelt among us” (1:14). WHAT!? The logos is a principle, an idea, a truth: it doesn’t take on flesh. It can’t take on flesh. That makes no sense! And yet, John declares, that’s what happened. Truth itself, wisdom itself, knowledge itself, reality itself took on flesh, became a human being, lived among us. That first principle which created the universe, in turn, became one of its own creations.
Now we call this logos by his earthly name: Jesus (which also feels weird: the presence that created all things is essentially named the ancient equivalent of “Joe,” or “Jim,” or “Frank”). Like the Father and the Spirit, John argues, Jesus was there at creation, bringing the whole universe into existence. It’s a scandalous idea that, because we’ve heard it so many times, has lost all its scandal.
But it’s also a comfort to hear, is it not? The one who created all things came to be a part of that creation. The source of all truth and beauty and knowledge and wisdom and goodness and reality (the logos) dwelt among us, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, dwells among us still.
The Trinity created the universe: three persons with a part to play yet all one God in action. It’s a strange concept to wrap our minds around, maybe it’s an impossible concept to wrap our minds around. But it is also good and comforting. This Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who are always and have always been in relationship with each other, made space within their dance to invite another member, another dancer: us. We humans and all of creation have been invited into the dance that Father, Spirit, and Logos share together.
Praise be to God!
Gracious God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we thank you for creating us and inviting us into relationship with you. May we never forget that you, who created all things, create us still, each moment of each day.