If this world is ever going to recover what we have trashed by falling for the delusion of materialism, we are going to have to start with the idea of Logos. It is this precious and vital fundamental understanding of human reality that locates true meaning in God’s Word.
And I’m not talking about the Bible. Though the scriptures are treasures without compare, the true rediscovery of real meaning in the world will come when we embrace the reality that God’s Word is the Person of Jesus Christ. And it is in Him that we discover the true meaning of all creation and our very lives.
So, when God speaks, He is doing more than merely communicating with words. He is making visible, real, and relatable His glorious Self. Even though He will always be beyond our understanding, He does everything to bridge the gap between the Created and the Uncreated by coming among us Himself in the flesh and thereby collecting all the physical reality of creation and uniting it to Himself through His grace and love. The whole notion of the Faith and my Normal Orthodox Christian life is discovered when I embrace the spiritual labor of embodying this unity God has restored between Him and me through Christ. My life is in Him. My meaning and purpose are in Him. And everyone around me is also meant to be connected to Him. That’s my mission: to help others embrace this reconnection to God through Christ!
Look at our Lesson today in Genesis 1:1-13:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters.
And God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.
And God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made the firmament and separated the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament. And it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.
And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. And God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, upon the earth.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, a third day.
All of us know this passage well. It’s the beginning. But notice what St. Moses emphasizes as he tells us the story of God creating the world. God uses His Voice, His Word! (hint, hint!)
God’s Word is there with Him at Creation “out of nothing” (ex nihilo) and His Word brings creation into being. God’s Word shares “existence” with the creation as God, “SAYS” “Let there be…” And His creation is GOOD because creation receives its existence from the Good God. His Word brings existence into existence because His Word is equal to Him and shares His eternality and His divinity. Have you figured out that I’m talking about Jesus here? Good. I was hoping to be obvious.
So, words matter because God begins His love story with His creation with His Word. His Word extends God’s goodness and shares God’s goodness with the creation God brings into existence. In just a bit, God will look at the humanity He creates from His creation and will say that humanity is “Very Good.” And God has never changed His Mind about that still!
It is significant that the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew scriptures uses the word “logos.” St. Moses starts his creation story with God speaking the universe into existence. God uses His “logos” to create everything. Then St. John begins his gospel of John in the same manner, using the word “logos” to tell us that Jesus is God’s Word. This significant revelation is given to us on the threshold of Great Lent precisely to teach us to pay attention to God’s Word and allow His Word to continually recreate us in His likeness.
Just look at the lives of the two saints we remember today. Saints Procopius and Basil, fellow ascetics, lived about the middle of the eighth century, during the reign of Leo the Isaurian (717-741), from whom they suffered many things for the sake of the veneration of the holy icons. They ended their lives in the ascetic discipline. It was the theology of re-connectedness found in the veneration of the holy icons that gave meaning and purpose to these holy friends and heroes of the Faith. They saw in the defense of the holy icons the defense of God recapturing His creation to be used to reflect His glory, especially in our lives. So they spent the rest of their earthly lives practicing the spiritual disciplines so that they could make their own lives living icons of God’s grace!
Today, on this Clean Monday, the first day of Great Lent, do your words share goodness with creation? Are your words icons of God’s Word for your world? If we are ever going to travel this journey to the fullness of our purpose and our destiny as creatures meant to be God’s eternal companions, we are going to have to begin with disciplined words. As King Solomon says in Proverbs “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” (Proverbs 25:11) The Church gives us the practical spiritual disciplines that begin with the practice of silence and then moves us to learn to shape our words in prayer and worship. Having our words seasoned with timeless wisdom sets us free to use our words to create and not destroy. We become Orthodox on Purpose!
P.S. With the rivers of your tears, you have made the barren desert fertile. Through sighs of sorrow from deep within you, your labors have borne fruit a hundred-fold. By your miracles you have become a light, shining upon the world. O Prokopios, our Holy Father, pray to Christ our God, to save our souls. Amen
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