What Does God Look Like?

The Nativity, Konrad von Soest , 1403




About this meditation.  This dialog mediation based on John 1:1-18 is meant to be read by two people.  The scripture passages (centered and larger font) are read by someone who stands at a lectern and the meditation itself is read by the pastor who stands at the pulpit.

This work is meant to be heard more than it is meant to be read. You can read it but you will miss much of the nuance. Or you can view it here. The sermon begins at the 36 minute mark in the video. https://www.facebook.com/PastorMikeWeber/videos/3007741575903924

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.

He was in the beginning with God;
all things were made through him,
and without him was not one thing made that was made.

In him was life,
and the life was the light of all people.

“What does God look like?” five year old Daniel asked his mother one Christmas Eve as she tucked him into bed. 

“I don’t know, honey.  No one has ever seen God; but he’s always with us.”

“But, Mommy, what does God look like?”  Daniel persisted.  “I want to know!”

“Me, too, honey.  Me, too.  Now go to sleep,” she said, kissing him and bidding him good night.

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.

In him was life,
and the life was the light of all people.
The light shines in the darkness
and the darkness has not overcome it.

“What does God look like?!”  the children of Israel shouted. For they had been wandering in the wilderness with very little food or water, Moses had gone up on the mountain for 40 days, and they were left alone.  “Give us a god we can see, a god we can touch, a god we can understand and control.  Give us a god like the gods of Egypt!” 

And so Aaron cast their ear rings and necklaces into the fire, made a golden calf, set it up before the eyes of all the people and said, “Behold, O Israel, here is your god who brought out of the land of Egypt!  This is what God looks like!”

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God

In him was life,
and the life was the light of all people.
The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.

“What does God look like?” Isaiah prayed in the temple one day.  For the king had died, the nation was threatened by terror from a foreign land, and the times were uncertain.

And Isaiah saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and the hem of his robe filled the temple.  The angels hovered over him and sang out one to another, “Holy! Holy! Holy! is the Lord of Hosts!  The whole earth is full of his glory.”  Their voices shook the temple and the house was filled with mystery and smoke.  And Isaiah fell on his face and cried out, “Woe is me!  For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.” 

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
 He was in the beginning with God

The true light that enlightens everyone was coming into the world.
He was in the world, and the world was made through him,
yet the world knew him not.

He came to his own home, and his own people received him not.
But to all who received him, who believed in his name,
 he gave power to become children of God.

“O God, what do you look like?”  Mary pondered in her heart as she listened to the angel’s announcement.  “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in the womb and bear a son.  He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High.”  And Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”  But in her heart Mary wondered, “O God, what do you look like?”

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,

full of grace and truth.

We have beheld his glory,
glory as of the only Son from the Father.
And from his fullness we have all received grace upon grace.

From the beginning of time
        the world has asked over and over again,
        “What does God look like?”

And in answer to our question,
        God himself spoke a Word,
        and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

God looks like
            a baby lying in a manger on a bed of sweet smelling hay,
            surrounded by smelly shepherds and exotic old astrologers from foreign lands
            all kneeling in awe and wonder on a cold, star-lit night.

God looks like a boy growing up in the village of Nazareth:
            carrying water for his mother,
            learning to use tools at his father’s workbench,
            playing with friends,
            worshipping and praying in the synagogue,

            and astounding the teachers in the temple
                  with the depth of his questions and the wisdom of his answers.

God looks like a man kneeling in a river as John baptizes him.
            He sees the heavens opened and hears a voice saying,
            “Thou art my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

He is a gifted teacher
            who invites fishermen and tax collectors to follow him
            and tells stories that will keep you thinking for days.

He is a gracious host
            who parties with sinners,
            treats women with an unheard of dignity,
            invites children to sit on his lap
            and feeds thousands with a few loaves of bread and fish multiplied by prayer.

Where he goes
            the blind see,
            the deaf hear,
            the lame dance for joy,
            storms are calmed,
            and lives are changed.

He is an implacable foe of religious rules,
            telling sinners that they are forgiven
            and pious Pharisees that they need to repent.

He is an innocent man
            betrayed by a kiss from a friend,
            deserted by those who should have stood with him,
            accused of a crime he did not commit,
            carrying sins that are not his own,
            mocked and beaten,
            crowned with thorns,
            nailed to a cross,
            and yet praying “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

He is a corpse,
            cold, lifeless and gray
            body stained with dried blood and the fresh tears of those who loved him.
            Laid in a tomb, not his own;
            Sealed with a heavy stone.

He is alive!
            Scattering Roman guards with the light of his glory,
            Startling grieving women in a garden,
            Walking through locked doors to appear uninvited to fearful disciples.
            Forgiving Peter,
            Telling Thomas to stop doubting and start believing,
            Conquering death,

            Bringing laughter,
            Giving hope and life to you and me.

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,

full of grace and truth;
No one has ever seen God;
the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father,
He has made him known.

“What does God look like?”  five year old Daniel asked his mother one Christmas Eve.

And the answer is very simple:
 God looks like Jesus.

This sermon was first preached on Christmas Eve, 1996 at the Reformed Church of Cortlandtown, Montrose, NY. It was also preached on Christmas Eve 2019 at United Reformed Church of Clifton, Clifton, NJ.


© December 24, 1996 by Rev. Michael A. Weber.
For permission to reprint please contact the author at
msnrweber@verizon.net

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