Scientists tell us that they know about the beginning of creation up until one second before the Big Bang. They think they know exactly what happened up until the moment before the explosion that sent our planet and millions of other pieces of cosmic stuff flying through space to become the universes we are still discovering to this very day. But even if these scientists do discover the very moment of creation, the very nanosecond of the explosion, they will never be able to discover, with all of their sophisticated mathematics or the most powerful of the telescopes at their disposal, the Word that lies behind the explosion. They will not be able to calculate, nor will they will they be able to computer-enhance for the human eye the Word that created the mass that exploded…or the Word that caused the explosion.
In order for scientists, or any other order of beings, to see the Word of God that created the universe, they must begin by looking at Jesus. They could begin by looking at that manger in a stable in Bethlehem, but they would have to look farther than that. They’d have to look forward to the Jordan River winding through the Palestinian countryside where he was baptized. They’d have to look into the wilderness where he was driven after his baptism, and where he was tempted with easy answers to difficult dilemmas. They would need to turn their attention to those places where he preached and taught and healed, where he walked among those who refused to receive him. They would need to see him cleansing the temple in Jerusalem, and that gate in the city wall through which he exited, weakened by torture, for one final time during his earthly existence. Anyone who wants to see the Word that lies behind the creation must look long and hard at the Word nailed to a cross. they would have to look at an empty tomb with a large stone pushed aside, powerless to contain in death the source of all.
In the beginning was not the Big Bang. In the beginning was the Word, and long after the Big Bang, that Word came and lived among us, sharing our humanity, clothed in flesh and blood, in bones and sinews and muscles, just like you and me. The Word which came long before the Big Bang was hung on a cross to die at the hands of that Word’s own creation. Those human creatures who were our ancestors in the flesh and in faith tried to snuff out the Word, stifle the Word, destroy the Word…just like we do in one way or another in our own day and time. Yet in the beginning was the Word, and in the end, when we’ve done our worst, when all has been accomplished and fulfilled, the Word will still exist, the same Word that came and lived among us and died for us.
I don’t know about you, but I can understand why some people find it difficult or impossible to believe in God. What we believe seems almost too fantastic to imagine, too marvelous to comprehend. Yet, for us, it’s the most basic truth of all creation. And it’s this truth which we can hardly imagine, that we can barely comprehend that you and I are called to accept by faith. In fact, we’re called to entrust our very lives to it. We’re called in this season of Christmas to see and understand those times when our lives feel like they’ve experienced a Big Bang of their own, when we’ve felt blown apart in every direction and shattered into a million pieces…we’re called to see in these cataclysmic times of our personal existence that all of this is happening to us within the great creative Word. Our joys and sorrows, our triumphs and disappointments, our anger and even our hatreds are all encompassed in the Word. Our generosity and crassness, our humanity and our inhumanity, our generativity and our destructiveness are all held within the all-encompassing love of the Word become flesh in Jesus. That Word who lay helpless in a manger and died broken upon a cross is the container of all our being.
Jesus the Word refused to be deterred and could not be held in death. He refuses yet to be neutralized or dis-empowered by our inclination to sentimentalize or trivialize or romanticize him. He just won’t allow it. The Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory. From his fullness we have all received grace upon grace. In the beginning and today and in the end, regardless of what happens in this world or in our lives, there was and is and will be the Word.