Listen, you heavens, and I will speak; hear, you earth, the words of my mouth. 2 Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants. Deuteronomy 32:1-2 in the Song of Moses
God’s people had been wandering homeless in the desert for years before they were allowed to enter the Promised Land. To them, there was great hope in the possibility of moisture coming from heaven as the bountiful gift Moses describes in an analogy for his words and teaching. The dew of heaven becomes the representation of God’s all-encompassing Spirit and gift of grace in this and other Old Testament scripture passages.
Ultimately, God’s Word descends like dew from heaven in the form of a newborn baby in a manger come to dwell among us. Like dew, He comes at no cost to us, freely, in the night, into the darkness, as a gentle covering of all things dry and dying, to refresh, to restore, to soften, to make what was withered fruitful once again. We live again because of the Word quickening within us.
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. John 1
“There was only the dark infinity in which nothing was. And something happened. At the distance of a star something happened, and everything began. The Word did not come into being, but it was. It did not break upon the silence, but it was older than the silence and the silence was made of it.” N. Scott Momaday in “House Made of Dawn”
Traveling today through the open spaces of Montana, Wyoming, and South Dakota, I am aware of a spiritual essence rising from the vistas extending as far as the eye can see. The Plains Peoples, from which my Stanford professor Scott Momaday came, intimately understood the infinity of creation. They were born, lived and loved, hunted and died beneath the silent stars.
Something happened, lighting the darkness and overcoming nothingness.
Something happened and the story of the Beginning breathes within us.
Something happened when God’s silence spoke.
His Word was, and always was, and always will be.
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. John 1
And so it starts with the Word. There is nothing more powerful, more sustaining, more everlasting, more connecting than the Word that is spoken and written, heard and read, taken in and understood, forever becoming part of our vocabulary to be passed on again and again. It not only dwells among us but lives within us.
When all else falls away, there will always be the Word that became flesh–foretold, forewarned, forsaken, forgiving.
If the beginning was the Word, then it makes perfect sense: we were created to listen. This is the season for listening as if we are hearing it all for the first time.