The Christmas story can seem so cartoon, so hard to grasp as ours, incapable of owning… As I ponder it, there is more to it than angels and farm animals and grumpy inn keepers. This story can be summed up in John 1: In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning… The Word became flesh and made His dwelling amongst us.
That means that in the darkness, in the nothingness, pre-dinosaurs, before the wheel, the light bulb and the espresso machine, there was this Word. This Word is and always has been. This passage is actually suggesting that the baby that popped out of the teenage virgin, this Jesus, is the Word that was present in the beginning. What did the Word that was present in the beginning do?
Genesis 1:1-3 reads:In the beginning (hmmm interesting) God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God spoke:
Eight different times in this creation story like a poetic song, appear the words: God said. God used words to create. God expressed himself. The Bible describes this state where the Spirit of God hovered and by His Word He spoke into being what was not, that now is.
By His word, He spoke into being light and what is day and night.
By His word, He spoke into being The Caribbean Sea, the Atlantic Ocean and the sky that houses the clouds and is the backdrop for rainbows.
By His Word, He spoke into being bright orange carrots, tall and graceful cherry trees and the surprise of a pomegranate.
By His Word, He spoke into being the Milky Way and beyond and even the little dipper and Pegasus.
By His Word, He spoke into being the creatures of the sea; jelly fish, orca whales and turtles, as well as the birds of the air; the bald eagle, the yellow finch and the butterfly.
By His Word, He spoke into being the land creatures: the weiner dog and the great dane, the kitty and the tiger, the chameleon and the crocodile.
By His Word, He spoke into being the man and the woman.
This Word that spoke life into being then became just that!
The Word became flesh and made His dwelling amongst us. God became flesh and breastfed for sustenance and got sinus infections and had toe jam and reactions to poison ivy and had dairy farts. God bled and experienced migraines and heard laughter and was moved by music, He touched skin and saw sunrises and sunsets. God tasted honey as sweet and sticky as it is and smiled at his work. God bumped into bad moods, hyperactive children, death, parties, love, betrayal and the need for a good haircut.
The Christmas story can be summed up in one sentence!
God became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.
And you’d think that God would move into the sweetest neighborhood with the best neighbors! But look at who Jesus chose to make his neighbors!!! He runs into dirty, desperate, lonely, dark, unfaithful, unbelieving, inadequate and insecure, disappointed, sick, irreligious neighbors. He moves in and He befriends them. He sits with them, He touches them. He walks with them. He parties with them. He cries with them. He talks with them. He worships with them. He eats with them. He lives and dies with them.
The neighborhood didn’t change before He moved in. They didn’t paint or spruce up. They didn’t remodel or mow their lawns. They didn’t get their act together first. God just ran into their neighborhood as it was, and said with His life “I am with you. As you are.” That’s Jesus. It is good news for all people! It is for the sick. It is for the perverted, It is for the hungry, the far away, the broken. It is for the addicts and the cutters. It is for the religious and the haters of religion. It is for those that believe and those that don’t. It is for men and women. It is for blacks and whites – it is for people of all color, tongue and nation. It is for those who get it and those that don’t. It is for those that are rule followers and rule breakers. It is for the gay and the straight. It is for the foolish and the wise, the rich and the poor, the leaders and those who follow them. This God with us is for all people! And that is good news that causes great joy!
You don’t have to be something impressive for God to be with you.
You don’t have to look a certain way for God to be with you.
You don’t have to be healthy for God to be with you.
You don’t have to be believe a certain list of theological points for God to be with you.
You don’t have to do specific rituals or religious practices for God to be with you.
You don’t have to be a good neighbor for God to be with you.
God will move right into your neighborhood! Jesus moved in, got the house keys and brought over a pie!
This was asinine! This is asinine! One commentator I read said, “Most Jews so heavily emphasized that a human being could not become a god that they never considered that God might become a human.”
God most High, coming down. God, in Heaven, on Earth. God in perfection, suffering. God, exalted left to lay in a trough. Asinine! It is asinine, this whole Christmas thing. So let us enter the asinine, craziness that is God’s love come down. As we enter this story, may we open the door when Jesus knocks and be so astounded that we invite Love to move in. When He, Love moves in, we too will love our neighbors as hard as they may be to love.