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Bo Stern Brady: The Greatest Wonder Of All, John 1:1-18

September 6, 2022

Audio Recording

Beauty, mystery and wonder. All three of them go together. We wonder at things that are beautiful and mysterious. Children most often find themselves in a state of wonder because everything is a new journey into beauty and mystery. The greatest wonder of all is the Incarnation. Gazing on the Word made flesh keeps the gospel beautiful.

Beauty Will Save The World
Beauty Will Save The World
Bo Stern Brady: The Greatest Wonder Of All, John 1:1-18
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Sermon Transcript:

:00 You're listening to a live recording from Westside church in bend, Oregon. Thanks for joining us.

00:06 I'm Boster Brady and I am a teaching pastor here and I am more than that. I am a grandmother, which is one of my favorite things in the whole world. And, my granddaughter Le came over this week to our house and she's four and she's alive. She's an alive little girl. And she came in wearing light up shoes. I'm telling you that girl, you could put 1 million unmarked, $1 bills in front of her, and she would not trade you for her light up shoes. I wish for all of you as much happiness as Lena has in those shoes. Like I, and I had to think what in my life has recently made me feel that way. It's it could, you can only describe that as wonder when, when you experience something that is so wonderful that you wouldn't trade anything for it. And I, in fact, I read a quote this week that was, cynicism is you focus on the price of everything, but not the value.

01:12 And Lena knows the value of the shoes. She doesn't know the price, she doesn't care about the price. She just knows the value. And that's what wonder is when we see something bigger and grander and more beautiful than we can explain, we know it's more beautiful than we can afford. We know it's bigger than us. And, and so this message today was planned long before the, the events unfolded in our city last week. And it's a message on beauty and wonder. And we are undoubtedly living in a time that can only be described as ugly. The events of last week were ugly and evil. And so were some of the responses to the events of last week. And so I looked at this message at the beginning of the week, and I thought, really, we gonna talk about beauty and wonder in the middle of devastation, but here's the thing.

02:13 We can stand in the middle of the devastation. And we are admittedly, we are living in a broken time and in a broken moment, we can stand in their wreckage and we can hold up every piece and we can analyze it and debate it and discuss it and try to figure out how to fix it. We can argue violence and gun laws and mental health initiatives. And we should, we need to have those discussions, but we can get so focused on fixing the problem that we forget that we are living in the middle of the solution. We live in the middle of the redemption that was offered to us to the incarnation of Jesus Christ. And if that doesn't make you feel a little bit of wonder this morning, it's time to check your pulse because this is big. This thing that we've been offered, this beauty that God made flesh walked into our broken neighborhood and offered us something we couldn't ever do on our own.

03:13 It is beautiful. We have to remember why we're here, whose we are, and that the love of God has the power to save the world, not just fix the problems of our world. So we remember in the middle of human's brokenness brokenness, that there is a bigger force at work and a greater plan in play. We could, we, we can always get stuck in the ditch of it. We can, in fact, I was stuck in the ditch of it last Sunday. I read every, I was in Beaverton. I live in Beaverton part-time as well. And my daughter texted me what was going on. And I was watching every news site and I was reading every reputable source. And I was looking at every single rumor and I was just in the middle of it in the middle, middle, middle of it. And I was feeling all of it.

04:05 And at one point I had to put it all aside and say, Jesus, I just have to believe that you're more beautiful than this. I have to believe that beauty will save the world. That, that the, the incarnation is the trick up your sleeve, and that you have come to rescue us. I have to believe it. So for the next couple of weeks, we're gonna be in a series called beauty. We'll save the world. It's based loosely off a book of the same name by Brandson and we are gonna hold the gospel up. And we're gonna say, show us the wonder in this, show us the beauty in every piece, remind us that we get to feel this too, that it isn't hopeless. That we have a Redeemer, that he has a plan that life is moving and God is in it. And he wants to use us to do something beautiful in his world.

05:03 And he wants to restore it as I think, as believers, a sense of wonder at who he is wonder is defined as a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar or inexplicable wonder is a happy surprise that so big, it can't be explained and can mostly just be felt wonder is a feeling. And I love that wonder is a feeling because things get stuck in the mechanism of our intellect. You know, when you start to mole over something over, over, over, over something, wait a minute, I have to go overthink this over, over. Everything's stuck in our intellect, but wonder moves past it. It's transcendent. It's bigger than what we see. It's bigger than what we can explain. It's beauty that takes over and it's outside the borders of our intellect and our textbooks and our microscopes. Can't be dissected the expanse of the power of the Pacific ocean.

06:07 Somebody explained that to me, somebody put the Pacific ocean under your microscope and figure out what all is in there. The, the way the leaves on the Aspen trees change in autumn and central Oregon. Somebody wanna break that down into a chart, the way that the grandbaby laughs for the first time ever, the, the, the, the view from pilot Butte on a clear day, I assume there will be a clear day again, at some point I woke up yesterday and I was so excited to run the Butte and Nope, wasn't gonna do it. It's like running the Butte while licking an ashtray. It just wasn't didn't sound like the Saturday for me. all of these things are so far outside. My understanding that they just create this sort of silent stunned. Awe wonder is this interesting emotion too? Because it, it sometimes borders on fear.

07:05 There's a little bit of weird news. Have you ever stood under a fully lit starry sky and felt like, whoa, I'm not alone here. And it's beautiful and terrifying. It's so many things all at once. Experiencing something that creates wonder generally makes us feel very small and insignificant. And we've spent a lot of our lives trying to prove to ourselves that we are significant. And so when we feel this sense of, I am so small and I am so little, it can be really strange and really jarring and incongruent with how we've lived our lives so far, except it's. I think exactly where God wants us in order to experience the bigness. That is him and the beauty that is his gospel.

07:48 Proverbs nine 10 says the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. And that word fear means awesome or terrifying thing. That word fear sounds a lot like wonder doesn't it an awesome or terrifying thing? It, this is the beginning of wisdom. See, I believe so deeply in an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. I believe in it so much that he wants to be a friend to you. He wants to walk and talk with you. He wants to have a cozy relationship with you. I know this first hand in my own heart, but I am telling you that relationship starts with wonder. Everything begins with the understanding that you are so much bigger and more beautiful than me. You are bigger, you are big, and I am small. You are unbelievably expansive, and I am insignificant. You are a redemptive, God and I am unworthy of it.

08:42 You are whole, and our world is broken. we, everything starts with understanding. Wonder if, if you look at the Christmas story, it's filled with wonder, what's going on, look, what's happening. It is an emotion. And we sometimes minimize the value of emotions, believing feelings, aren't spiritual, and we've gotta live beyond our feelings. But Proverbs tells us this feeling of wonder is the beginning of everything else. And if you feel hard pressed to find beauty today, you only need to look as far as the first chapter of the gospel of John. There's not a book I love more than John in the whole world Bible or anywhere else. The book of John is my favorite. And the first chapter of John is a poetic masterpiece. It is the very best version of the Christmas story. It's the incarnation. And in it, John weaves together, the story of creation and the story of the incarnation into a stunning picture of truth.

09:47 And grace. In fact, I was reading the works of a, theologian, and he compares the incarnation to an hourglass and you see a globe at the top and a globe at the bottom and a very narrow point in the middle through which the sand runs and in the top globe, he says is the unending grace and love and truth and healing and restoration and redemption of Jesus. And in the bottom is humanities, emptiness and brokenness and endless longing for relationship with him. And the middle point is the incarnation. That's where Jesus comes. And the, the, the top globe is endless and it just keeps filling and filling and filling and filling. But only because of God made flesh only because of the wonder and beauty of the incarnation in it. Jesus comes into our world in unequal, divine goodness, and intersects with the vast emptiness of humanity.

10:57 He wears our skin and walks our streets and holds our hearts and wounds and ultimately takes on all our sin. And that idea ought to make us feel a little bit like Lena with light up shoes. It ought to make us feel pretty, worthy and, and, and, unworthy at the same time to receive the gift of the gospel. So we're gonna read this first chapter of John, and we're gonna read the first 18 verses without any interruption, because it just can't be messed with you just have to just read it straight through. It's so beautiful, but I wanna just say that John's such an interesting writer in the Bible because he's very old. When he writes this book, he is probably in his nineties. He's seen a lot of life. He's read all the other gospels. There's three of them, Matthew, mark, and Luke.

11:49 And they are the synoptic gospels because they are very similar. They actually were like 60 gospels written, but only these four made the cannon. So lots of people have been writing the story of Jesus and telling about his life and telling about his work. And lots of people have laid it out. And John has watched so many things move and change inside his belief system, inside the church. And he watched his best friend be tortured and killed on the cross. He received his mother to take care of Mary, and then he watched all 11 other disciples be killed. John also was really persecuted for his faith. In fact, I think I've told you before, there's a story. historians tell about the old man, John, who it's believed was dropped in a pot of boiling oil. And that's why maybe he was exiled because he was so hideous to look at.

12:46 And, and there's a story that they say they carried the old man, John into the church on a stretch church so that he could give the church, his last words. He's the last remaining disciple of Jesus. They're expecting some sort of ex of Jesus. They're expecting, when is Jesus coming back? They're expecting some key to living. And they thought John was senile. Because the last words he gave the church were little children love one another. And this is the way John is he's called the disciple. Jesus loved by John. Like he is like, you know what? He loved me. He loved me a lot. I'm just gonna go ahead and say it. He loved them all, but John's the one who knew it. He lived in the identity as loved. And so we're gonna read this very familiar chapter, but what I would love for you to do is if you could just imagine that we're all not sitting in green chairs in a church sanctuary, but we're all gathered around a fire outside.

13:48 And you know, if you need a picture, some s'mores in there, you can do it. You do you, but we are here and we've gathered to discuss the brokenness in our city. And we are gonna say, how did we get here? Why is the world so dark? What do we do? What do we do about guns and mental illness? And what do we do about the hopelessness that we're faced with in humanity? And what do we do about divisions in the church and divisions in the nation? And we're gonna talk about these things. And into our conversation comes a very old man and he's carrying his journal and he wants to just read this thing to us because he wants to speak into our now. And he says this in the beginning was the word. And the word was with God. And the word was God.

14:40 He was with God in the beginning, through him, all things were made. And without him, nothing was made that has been made in him was life. And that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness and darkness has not overcome it. There came a man who was sent from God. His name was John. He came as a witness to testify about the light. So that through him, everyone might believe he himself was not the light, but he came to testify about the light. The true light who gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world. And though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to his own and his own did not receive him. But to all who did receive him to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, children born, not of blood, nor of the desire or will of man, but born of God, the word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.

15:45 We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only son from the father full of grace and full of truth. John testified concerning him. He cried out saying, this is he of whom. I said, he who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me from his fullness. We have all received. Grace upon grace for the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only son who is himself God, and is at the father's side and has made him known the incarnation. And every story surrounding it is filled with two things. It is filled with mystery and it is filled with wonder, the mystery here is no small thing.

16:34 God is eternal yet here on this page, he is born the eternal God has a human starting point. God is omnipotent. Yet. He is born powerless and dies powerless. God doesn't just become, man. God becomes a 12 year old. And if you have ever been a 12 year old, you know, it is a lot to take on. . It's a lot to be packed in a little hormonal body and Jesus comes. And as a 12 year old, what does he do? He, he seeks out the priest and he asks them questions in the temple. He stays too long asking questions because God who is OmniGen and knows everything learns.

17:20 These things are too hard to explain, but we cannot deny them this idea that God, his is powerful, but becomes powerless. He's eternal, but he becomes finite. He's all knowing, but he becomes knowing this is too powerful and big for us to understand. Brian za said this, nothing that belongs essentially to the human experience was exempted in the incarnation except sin, which is what Christ came to save us from. So in Christ, God is born. God grows. God learns God labors. God's sweats. God sleeps. Finally in Christ, we find a God who weeps a God who suffers and most astonishingly of all, a God who dies. This is the God who smuggles himself into death and blows it up from the inside. He redeems death for us. Martin Luther wrote an Easter HYM. It was for Easter Saturday. You know what the title of the hymn was?

18:30 God is dead because he wanted us to understand that God came not just into our living, but he came into our dying only in coming into it was Jesus able to redeem it. And Jesus, we see the beautiful redemption of all that. It means to be human. Jesus works as a carpenter and we see him redeem for us. Vocational importance. Jesus spends time with society's outcast and he redeems our view on loving the least of these. And without partiality Jesus feeds hungry people, Jesus heals sick people. Jesus makes sure his mother is taken care of Jesus dies and redeems even death for us. He assumes humanness in order to redeem humanness. Isn't that the most beautiful thing ever Jesus takes on our humanness so that he can change it so that he can redeem it for us. Everything in all of history either leads up to the incarnation or flows out of it, including your life.

19:31 Everything. Every page in the Bible is leading up to the page where Jesus Christ is crucified and buried and resurrected. And every page after that story is what flows out of that moment. Everything is about the incarnation, everything. The incarnation is the wonder of our world. It's the breathtaking wonder in all of history and it will stand for all eternity. It's the most beautiful story ever told. So how do we lose our place in it so easily? We're surrounded by this idea. In fact, I'm gonna just have a transparent moment as a communicator. I was worried that this message was just way too light for today. I was worried that people needed better answers. And then I came back to this place of their I, there is no better answer again. I'll say it. There is no other ASAP, the sleeve of Jesus. This is what he did for us.

20:30 And it's enough. And so how do we become people surrounded splashing around in the beauty of the gospel who eventually are willing to take another life because they don't see it the same way as us. How do we become people who take our life and our name from Jesus and then are willing to take another life in his name? I think there are some enemies of wonder. There are a lot of them, but I think three of them are, are really important. The first one is boredom. Boredom gets us in trouble. Wonder is a feeling, but boredom is the loss of feeling. It's the loss of adventure. The loss of mystery boredom is the gateway to having nothing to live for. The opposite of boredom is not actually busyness. There are tons of bored, busy people and tons of busy bored people. The opposite of boredom is, .

21:29 I have it written here. I just wonder the opposite of boredom is wonder when, when we loo, when we get immersed in like everything's humdrum, everything's turned gray, we just don't have the ability anymore to wonder, prayer. Our prayer life becomes about keep me safe from the world outside my door. And when we live and wonder our prayer life becomes, send me out into the world. I I've heard a lot of people this week saying things like, oh, the world is so dark and black and difficult. Just take us outta here. God, even so Lord come it J I mean, you must be wrapping up. Maybe just get, get me free from here. And what I keep hearing, I take this little, have a three mile loop around my neighborhood where I just, I honestly, I just, every morning run it and pray in the spirit because I don't know what to pray either. And every time I feel like Jesus is saying even so Bo go, you go, go into the world with the beauty of the gospel strap on the gospel of peace onto your feet and get out there and do something live in the adventure that I've called you to live in the place on the timeline where I've, I've put you. The second enemy of wonder is cynicism.

22:49 Everyone's a critic right now and it's killing us there. It's just so easy to criticize. It's so easy to find what's wrong. It's so easy to focus on the solutions I would do if I was in charge, but cynic, cynicism can kill us. And it definitely kills wonder we were in the car driving here on, Friday. And we, we had had an appointment in Beaverton run late, and there were fires that were keeping the traffic really slow. And it was labor day traffic. And I was complaining about the traffic. We had dinner reservations here when we got here and I'm like, we're trying to race to get to the dinner reservations. And I was kind of complaining about the traffic maybe more than once. And at one point my husband said, you know what? I feel like you and I need to work on being people of gratitude, because if we don't, we're gonna become fussy people.

23:38 We're gonna become fussy old people. That's what we are gonna become. And I don't want us to be that. And, and the first sign that we're becoming cynical is a lack of gratitude. The first sign in gratitude, I think is the first step toward life. The life of being a cynic, listen to what Ralph Waldo Emerson said about being a cynic. Don't be a cynic and dis consulate. Preacher, don't be whale and be moan. You love the language they used to use is so pretty. Don't be whale and be moan omit the negative propositions, nervous us with incessant. Affirmatives don't waste yourself in rejection nor bark against the bad, but chant. The beauty of the good, ah, chant. The beauty of the good, the opposite of cynicism is not gull ability. The opposite of cynicism is worship is worship. When you feel everything is going to hell Jesus, what isn't, who are you in the midst of this?

24:45 Where are you in the midst of this? What do I know for sure is true of you. Despite everything I see around me, despite all the brokenness, despite the things I don't agree with. And don't like, what do I know that you are doing in my world right now? And how do I attach to it? Worship chance. The beauty of the good, the last thing that keeps us from wonder is blindness. You could say that also just lack of vision in days like this, it's hard to imagine that something divine could be happening behind the scenes. We're not the first to feel this way. I know we do feel like it's never been worse than this. Christians have never been more oppressed. Things have never been more violent, never been more dark, never been more on the bubble financially. This is the worst it's ever been.

25:36 And I think kind of God is like, okay guys, settle down a little, you know, just everybody settle down and Roman empire or anyone, somebody wanna take a look at history and see where you fit. but we feel this and we feel it legitimately, but so did Hiba listen to what he said in the mid seventh century, BC, how long Lord must I call for help? But you do not listen or cry out to you violence, but you do not save. Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before me, there is strife and conflict bounds. Therefore, the law is paralyzed and justice never prevails the wicked. He in the righteous. So that justice is perverted. Doesn't that feel to you a little bit like where we're living now, it feels hopeless. We feel hemmed in.

26:30 We feel like there is no answer that works for our world. I get it. I sign me up Hiba. I'm living right where you're living, but you know what God said to Hiba, listen to this, look at the nations and watch and be utterly amazed for, I am gonna do something in your days that you would not believe even if it were, even if you were told I'm about to do something. So the something that God was about to do was what Jesus, the incarnation, we live on the backside of the promise. We live in the outflow of the promise of incarnation of a God that would step into the mess. Step into the dump, step into the wreck and say, would you like to join me in this adventure? As we set the world, right? Is it possible? Gotta be it hope is not negotiable right now, guys.

27:34 And not having hope is not an option. Otherwise, why do we even have a savior? We must have hope that the beauty of the gospel can change and save and rescue our world. We must, the world is depending on it. And so my prayer for you today is courage for the adventure ahead of you. Courage to be willing, to feel both the tragedy and the beauty of our world. It would be easy if the world was just all the way ugly, it would be easy to leave. But the thing is it isn't, there's all kinds of beauty in the world and it's worth saving. So courage for the great adventure ahead of you, grace, to be grateful, even when it's hard eyes to see what you can't see on your own of the goodness of God and the willingness to strap on the light up shoes of the gospel and wear 'em at into your neighborhood. Jesus, we love you.

28:44 Word made flesh. We thank you. Holy spirit, give us courage and grace and eyes to see even just a glimpse of what could be, give us feet that are ready to walk in the beauty that you've called us to. We love you and we worship you. And for everyone who feels just on the border of no hope today, I ask that your holy spirit would do what only your holy spirit could do and come and fill us up and remind us how utterly impressive you are. We give you glory and your name. We pray. Amen.