Thursday, December 27, 2012

St. John Apostle and Evangelist

We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life-- this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us-- we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:1-9

Today we celebrate the feast day of St. John Apostle and Evangelist. John the Evangelist is the conventional name for the author of the Gospel of John. Traditionally he has been identified with the author of the other Johannine works in the New Testament—the three Epistles of John and the Book of Revelation, written by a John of Patmos—as well as with John the Apostle and the Beloved Disciple mentioned in the Gospel of John. However, at least some of these connections have been debated since about 200.

The Gospel of John refers to an unnamed "Beloved Disciple" of Jesus who bore witness to the gospel's message. The composer of the Gospel of John seemed interested in maintaining the internal anonymity of the author's identity.

The apostle John was a historical figure, one of the "pillars" of the Jerusalem church after Jesus' death. Some scholars believe that John was martyred along with his brother although many other scholars doubt this. Some believe that the tradition that John lived to old age in Ephesus developed in the late 2nd century, although the tradition does appear in the last chapter of the gospel, though this debatable tradition assumes that John the Evangelist, John the Apostle, the Beloved Disciple mentioned in John 21 and sometimes also John the Presbyter are the same person . By the late 2nd century, the tradition was held by most Christians.

Whatever our understanding is of John, we can be grateful for his willingness to tell the story, putting to paper and fleshing out the stories that were verbally shared from person to person. John bring rich beauty to the fellowship we have with God through Christ and helps us to see the light of Christ which vanquishes all darkness.

On this third day of Christmas may we give thanks for all those who bring light into our darkness. May we celebrate those who by their words and music, move us from fear to acceptance, from resistance to compassion. May we take time to thank the story tellers, those who read to us out loud, those who sang us songs on our beds and in our gloom - those who brought light to our moments of darkness and disbelief. And may we be encouraged to spread the light today with all we meet.

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