A Lent Reflection for Saturday, March 18th
By Jennifer Andersson
Lectionary reading: Psalm 23; 1 Samuel 15:32-34; John 1:1-9
Selected passage: John 1:1-9
John 1:1-9 The First Nation Version – An Indigenous Translation of the New Testament
He Shows Good Will (John) tells the Good Story
Creator’s Word comes down
Long ago, in the time before all days, before the creation of all things,
the one who is known as the Word was there, face to face with the Great Spirit.
This Word fully represents Creator and shows us who he is and what he is like.
He has always been there from the beginning, for the Word and Creator are one and the same.
Through the Word all things came into being, and not one thing exists that he did not create.
Creator’s life shined out from the Word, giving light to all human beings. This is the true Light that comes to all the peoples of the world and shines on everyone.
The Light shines into the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it or put it out.
Into the wilderness of the Land of Promise (Judea) came a man named Gift of Goodwill (John).
He was sent by the Great Spirit to tell what he knew about the Light so everyone could believe. He was not the Light but came to speak the truth about the Light. The true Light that shines on all people was coming into the darkness of this world.
This familiar passage comes to us today from the First Nations Version of the New Testament (C 2021). This beautiful translation brings often missed nuances to “In the beginning was the Word, and Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Here, we are brought into the narrative of the Creator in an expanded way. The mystery and acknowledgment of the longevity of the Trinity is getting unpacked in these verses. We are offered context, a promise, and ultimately, an expanded and descriptive picture of the hope that not only the darkness in this world needs, but those of us experiencing it cry out for.
In the traditional translation, John uses the Greek word logos to describe Jesus "in the beginning," or before creation and time began. Logos means word, specifically, the spoken word or a statement. Jesus is God's spoken word, according to John. In the First Nation Version of the New Testament, the Trinity also has many names, both as a collective, and as individual expressions in the three-in-one. The various names/words describe the Trinity’s characteristics – “The Word fully represents Creator and shows us who he is and what he is like” (vs.2). Here the Word is also referred to as Light, the true Light that shines on all people, breaking into the darkness. Here, we are also assured that this has been so since the very beginning of time. Long before any of us took our first breath. Creator is ever-present in what has been and goes before us into what will be. I receive great comfort from this.
Later in the text of the First Nation Version, the Word (Jesus) is also called Creator Sets Free, and Wisdom-keeper. The Holy Spirit is called Spirit of Truth, and the One True Spirit Guide. God is referred to as Great Spirit, Creator, Great Mystery, Maker of Life, Giver of Breath, One Above Us All. Are these new and enhanced names for and descriptions of God for you? How have you experienced the Creator? The Word? The Great Spirit?
Take a breath. Quiet your own spirit. What name(s) describing the Trinity, collectively or as individual expressions, rise up in your spirit, right now? What name(s) resonate most for you in this very moment of your life? What name(s) draw you closer to the Holy One? What name(s) do you long to call out to or connect with?
Make a list of these names. Sit with them in the quiet and loving presence of the One Who Loves You. Breathe. Allow three of them to distinguish themselves in this moment. Breathe. Now, perhaps allow just one to float to the forefront. Breathe. Repeat that name slowly, either in your spirit or aloud, ten times. Pay attention to how your heart, mind, and body respond with every utterance. What is the Holy One offering you, just you, in the saying of the name?
Great Spirit. Creator Who Sets Free. Spirit of Truth. We come to you, longing to meet you in familiar and new ways. We seek a sense of grounding in who you are. We long to experience you in an expanded way. Reveal to us what we need, especially that which we don’t even realize we need right now. We rest in your faithfulness and mystery.
About the Author
Jennifer Andersson is an active pursuer of the Sacred and Holy in her life call to create environments that point toward the healing and welcoming love of God. She is passionate about human beings, creation, music, arts, justice, and reconciliation. She is also a spiritual director and clinical social worker, living with her husband in the greater Detroit area, where she is currently following God’s lead in developing a healing and seeking community called the Journey Center of Michigan.