Monday, December 24, 2012

A Christmas story for the rainy season - how does God move into the neighborhood?

There are a number of ways to move into the neighborhood.  In the US, we look down the street and see a moving van unloading couches, chairs, beds and boxes - the U-Haul truck signals the arrival of a new person in the neighborhood.

My favorite Christmas scripture is John 1:14 and the Message puts it this way: "The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.  We saw the glory with our own eyes, the-one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish."

I like thinking about the way that Jesus moved into the neighborhood.  Joseph and Mary wandering around an unfamiliar town looking (begging?) for a place to stay.  I picture Bethlehem residents peeking out behind doors, seeing a very pregnant woman and her working-class husband and deciding that they didn't have enough room. So, Jesus arrival wasn't marked by moving vans or housewarming parties - he had to spend his first night in a stable.  

Contrast that with the reception the angels get as they look for somebody to share the good news of Jesus' birth.  They find a willing audience in some lowly shepherds who leave their livelihoods in the care of others to come and check out this newborn-king-in-a-manger.  And Luke's gospel tells us that they leave the stable telling anyone they can find about what they have just seen and heard.

Jesus moves into a neighborhood with little fanfare - and most miss it completely. 

The rainy season has begun in northern Mozambique.  Yesterday as I shared this Christmas story with a church here in Montepuez, I used the example of how rain water collects.  Water doesn't gather in high and mighty places... it gathers in low places.  The blessing of rain will run off the lofty and accumulate in humble settings.

In order to appreciate and benefit from the fact that Jesus has moved into the neighborhood - we must be willing to be interrupted/inconvenienced and humble enough to accept Him... even if he is wrapped in rags.

Peace and goodwill,

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