Thursday, November 20, 2008

Reading John 1:1

This week, I'm dipping into John, as the Gospel I've chosen to read as the next part of our Book of Faith initiative. It's interesting to read the beginning of this Gospel, which is so different from the other Gospels. I'm also rehearsing for a Christmas cantata, as is my spouse. We play the CD of the music at least once a day. The cantata revolves around beloved Christmas music and the themes you would expect: baby in a manger, awestruck shepherds, angels proclaiming joy.

But not John. We get that mystical sounding bit: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Word incarnate. Hmm. Word as God. I'm a poet, so these words might make more sense to me than they do to most people.I have a non-believer friend who has no patience for this kind of language, which she sees as non-rational, non-provable. I'm happiest in the world of poetry and figurative language, where the meanings are multiple.

This idea of God as Word also reminds me of a time in a different church, where I heard a reference to God as the "Great I am." I heard "iamb." Some day I hope to work this into a poem. God as a pair of syllables, one unstressed, the next stressed. Some theorists tell you that an iambic line most mimics the human heartbeat, and that's why we find so much use of the iambic structure in poetry (at least poetry written before the middle of the twentieth century).

I look forward to the rest of the book. It's been a long time since I read a Gospel straight through. I'm used to the little chunks that I get in church every week. It's a lot more than some Christians get, but it's such a different experience to read the whole thing, every verse in proper context.

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