In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God … and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us … (John 1:1, 14a)Prequel. Fans of Star Wars know that the three newest movies are prequels to the ones from the 1980s. It explained how things, like Darth Vader, came to be. Star Trek's most recent movie showed events that were important before anyone knew they were important. Even Arthur Conan Doyle’s Hound of the Baskervilles is a late-written prequel to explain to his Sherlock Holmes fans how that violin-playing intellectual became a detective. People love prequels. Prequels explain how already beloved characters came to be who they are. Like the first chapter of John!
When the Gospel of John was written, Jesus’ Bethlehem birth was well known through Matthew and Luke’s versions. John didn’t repeat those stories … John wrote a prequel about the amazing mysterious Word speaking the intimacies of creation, sending a love letter to humanity through Israel’s history, and then becoming flesh to live among us. Of course, there would have been no prequel without Jesus’ teachings and healings, sacrificial death and glorious resurrection. Prequels always explain the “before” once the “after” has made a difference. They say, “this was important before we knew it was important”.
Someday our story will be told as a prequel. People will write, film or sing the church of our current generation because its faithfulness explains the Good News church they know. What happens in our communities – what we say and how we give, our care for one another, uncompromising advocacy in justice issues, and mission among the mangers of the world – is more significant than we can guess! Our budgets will be recognized as blessings and the year-in year-out worship, a whispering of God’s Word. So, “beam us up, angels,” it’s time to live the story whose sequel is always light shining in the darkness.
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