In the beginning…
John 1: 1-5
The Word became flesh
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
One of the largest and most popular software packages in the world is called, quite simply, Word.
Catchy, and easy to remember, but more importantly, it does what it says on the tin. A word is, after all, the basic building block of verbal communication - the smallest unit to contain meaning as well as sound. So, it's a suitable name for a software primarily designed to help us manage words: to produce them, manipulate them, disseminate them.
The funny thing is, that while we manipulate words, they also manipulate us. George Orwell, in the novel 1984, played about with the idea that perhaps our ability to think can be controlled by the words, and therefore the ideas, to which we have access. In a world of 'alternative facts' this is a scary concept.
Salespeople and advertisers tend to be gifted with words; so are politicians and ministers. We are sometimes rightly suspicious of people who use clever or emotive language to manipulate our feelings or actions. Most of us eventually come to the conclusion that you can't always believe what you read, or what you hear.
This doesn't always stop us falling for a clever bit of patter, though, especially if they are saying what we want to hear. We also make the mistake of detaching what is said from who is saying it.
In the primarily oral cultures in which the Bible was compiled, the authority of the words spoken did not depend on the words themselves, but on the speaker. Some speakers opened their mouths and produced nothing but...dust.
God spoke, and life itself sprang into existence. As the writer and pastor Rob Bell has said, "God spoke. The rest is commentary." Or as the gospel writer John describes it "In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God. And the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning."
Christians revere the bible, but we do not worship words. We treasure our texts because of what they show us, who they show us - the Word of God - Jesus - with God from the very start.
The Word, unlike human words, cannot be manipulated. Jesus is not a product to be sold, but a person to be known. We use words to seek God, but in the end it is always God who finds us. Just as he did in the beginning.
In the presence of the only Word which matters,
perhaps the only suitable prayer is silence.
But we are not, generally, a silent people.
Words, thoughts, feelings, passions,
they roll about inside us,
Sorry for making it complicated.
And yet, you spoke life into being, with all its noise.
You made us to be expressive.
Perhaps you delight in our words,
clumsy, inexpert, rushed,
because they show you how much we want to speak to you.
When it gets too much,
speak your Word into our souls again,
that we may feel the very presence of the living light
reborn in us
as it was in the beginning.