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Dare To Know

John 1:1-18

The Rev. Jon Roberts

30 December


Calvary Episcopal Church

Indian Rocks Beach, FL

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God; 3 all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light. 9 The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not. 11 He came to his own home, and his own people received him not. 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
14 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. 15 (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) 16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and[b] is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.


The Crucifixion by Matthias Grunewald (Moniker), Colmar, France 1475-1528
Photograph: The Bridgeman Art Library

In the beginning, “Dare to know” the power of substance and the value of relationships. Dare to know who’s in charge.[1]

Thirty five years ago an encyclopedia salesman stopped by a nearby church in hopes of selling a full volume set. He greets the head usher at the door and asks to talk to whoever is in charge.The usher says, “Not me; I only hand out the bulletins. Let me take you to the priest.” The salesman then asks the Rector if they are in charge. The priest says, “Not me; I only preach, teach and visit the sick. Let me take you to the Sr. Warden.” The salesman then asks the Sr. Warden if they are in charge.”Not me; I only conduct meetings and hear complaints. Let me take you to the Jr. Warden.” The salesman then asks the Jr. Warden if they are in charge. The Jr. Warden replies, “Not me; I just help take care of the building.” By this time the salesman is quite frustrated and wonders aloud, “well, who IS in charge around here anyway?” The volunteer who serves the coffee hears this and pipes up to say, “That’s me; NOTHING happens around here until I make the coffee!”
The power of coffee. The value of volunteers who make it.

​In the beginning, thirty five years ago today, January 1, 1983, when the Internet made its first official migration of the ARPANET to the TCP/IP network, so much came into being. It marked the beginning of the age of Computers and most importantly, Information. This is why so many people go to college to get IT, or “Information Technology” degrees. It put a lot of encyclopedia salesmen out of business too. In our modern age, when we want to know the answer, who’s in charge, all we have to do is pull out that little device. Nothing happens around here until we turn to it, perhaps over a cup of coffee first thing in the morning.

The 1st century Roman poet, named Horace urged people to challenge authority and gave the famous quote, “Dare to know.”[2]There is little doubt he would have enjoyed reading a good full set volume of encyclopedias, but certainly would have passed them by if he could get his hands on a mobile device. There, you don’t have to turn pages. You don’t have to look up any index card indexes. You don’t have to carry big books or look for them. You can even enlarge the print or the lighting to make it easier and more convenient.

In those days, about twenty years before Jesus was born, all they had were scrolls. Most people couldn’t read so they went to temple, (perhaps similar to our modern day coffee shop in attracting people) to get their fill of God’s Word. No encyclopedias and certainly no cell phones, but people still were networking and wanting to learn more about the power of knowledge, of substance. Interestingly, sixteen centuries later, Philip Melanchthon, Martin Luther’s spokesperson, would quote Horace’s line, “Dare to know” and with a new invention, the printing press, bibles in your own native tongue were being made. Knowledge was no longer in a select set of hands in the Roman church. Interpretations were being shared at a rapid rate.

Later, in the 18th century, the german philosopher, Immanual Kant expounded the need for enlightenment and influenced the morality of our national independence. To “Dare to know” could also mean, “To think for oneself.” It was a philosophy that revolted against absolute monarchy, promoted a constitutional government, progress, tolerance, liberalism and a social justice for all. This germinated those to be courageous and victorious in the American Revolution, and subsequently the French Revolution. One could say that our nation came into being around this substantial premise and value of relationship. But beware, it also can lead to a loss of identity, a corrupted government, lack of progress, intolerance and nothing close to justice if it runs the opposite direction of self-centeredness rather than god-centeredness. One should never abdicate God’s authority out of the economy of our great society.

Sending people further and further away from the authority of God is what Jesus cautioned his disciples and what John the Evangelist meant in his saying, “All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.” The importance on substance, the nature of “God” and specifically God’s “Word” was at the very center of human understanding. Nothing could move or have its being without God. The relationship of the substance, shared within the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit was certainly more powerful than coffee. Over time we have abdicated our source of truth. Taking a look at our collegiate centers of education, each has their own motto, mostly in latin. Those mottos emphasize seeking truth, wisdom, virtue and righteousness by turning towards the light from above; being still and knowing that the omniscient is our guide. Where today do these centers of education espouse the same on their vast network? Many of us turn to the Episcopal church because it is such a place where we dare to know, to think for ourselves and to reason with one another. It is not however devoid of God’s Word. God’s Word was in the beginning. It was with God and was God.

​As the culture continues to press upon us to buy an old volume of an outdated resource, or to buy into the latest advancement, people continue to look once more for the One in charge from the Church. Where do we direct them? Where do they find someone who says God is worshiped and adored here? From greeting to teaching, preaching and visiting the sick, to convening meetings and hearing complaints, to looking after the property, and even into making the coffee, where is the substance that binds together this body? It is in Word and Sacrament to which we live and move and have our being. It is the essential, all powerful substance of God’s Word to which we live, and it is in the value of how we interrelate with one another in the love of Christ. The Enlightenment dares us to know, but it can often derail from the power of God’s Word if unattended. The first thing we need to do around here is to brew this message and serve it hot if anything is to happen. This is what it means to truly be enlightened, as Paul wrote, once faith has come, we are no longer subject to [any other ruler].”[3] God does not care whether we network and learn through a cell phone, encyclopedia or scroll. What matters is that we begin each day seeking the power of his substance to give us life and to act upon that within the network of His human creation, to which He so loves.

In the beginning of each day, you are dared to know the power of God’s Word, how it gives us life through Jesus Christ, and appreciate the value of our relationships to which God moves.

Dare to know, but know that God is in charge.

[1] The Rev. Jon Roberts
[2] “Sapere aude”
[3] Galatians 3:23-25

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