I love the opening words of St John’s gospel. I remember them in the King James Bible, being read by the old Rector when I was a child – and the sense of mystery that they contained for me then remains with me now. We often consciously pray as Christians for people who are far away from us in distance – but this passage reminds me that prayers cross time too. It connects me firmly with people long dead, and with those who are yet to be born. Our stories, told and yet-to-be told all start in the same place – in the Beginning.
In the Beginning – outside time, outside space, just God: Creator, Redeemer, Comforter. Incomprehensible, unknowable – and yet waiting for relationship with us. Waiting, outside time, is a mystery too far for me – yet the experience of time suspending as we wait is familiar. Bad news seems to slow down time, some special moments last forever. The events that take us out of ourselves also take us outside time. Perhaps they take us closer to God, in our most intense joys and sorrows.
But we move beyond the Beginning, and into the story, a story of light and darkness, a story of conflict and victory. This is another passage of mixed tenses – from past to present to a strange continuous “The light shines in the darkness [present], and the darkness did not over come it [past]”. Once again, timelines do not run straight, and time twists and turns as God shapes it.