First Day of Lent, Ash Wednesday

John 1:1-34

Investors know the power of a company “logo” to communicate brand identity to the masses. A bright yellow “M” on the skyline, or the silhouette of an apple on a smart phone are both unmistakable symbols for us today.

Interestingly, John writes that Jesus of Nazareth is the “logo,” or, “logos” to be more accurate. In the ancient world, “logos,” was simply “word,” but it had deep and significant meaning. It communicated knowledge and divine reason. It conveyed meaning and being.

John, the baptizer, did not want to be misunderstood. John wanted the Jewish leaders and his own converts to know the meaning of the Word. The Word meant something miraculous; it meant fullness, and grace, and the power for people to be born of God.

A word on a page is only powerful in the meaning and reality it reveals. It is only a “sign” attached to a meaning, without which it is dead. Of course words are not just written, they are first and foremost spoken! Languages too are dead when not spoken. In this way, Jesus is literally the voice of God speaking to us.

When we hear a person’s voice we know that we are in contact with their being. We relish in even the first incomplete words of a toddler. Jesus is the sweet voice of God, just like the familiar voice of a loved one.

Isn’t it interesting that the actual logo representing Jesus is a Cross?  This symbol begins with intersecting lines and reaches out in all directions. It is a visual paradox because it can have no particular size. Unlike a circle or other shape, a cross is essentially infinite in size and space!  An early Christian apologist said, “the Cross is now the greatest symbol of God’s power and rule.”

John the Gospel writer and John the Baptizer help us begin our Lenten Journey. They start us at the Word breathed out and they lead us on our journey to the Cross. They are saying:

“Friend, hear the Word of God and hear his voice.
He is light and he is life.
Follow him to the Cross.
He is meaning and he is being.
He begins in paradox, but he reaches infinitely in love for all.”

Tim Keener
Montreal, QC