CHRISTmas IN your neighbourhood

fleshAs I contemplate what night to put my Christmas tree up (which also means which night to go and find the biggest one my local florist has in stock) my mind wandered to these words, taken from John 1:14 in the Message version of the Bible:”the

Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighbourhood.”

Now, I know not everyone loves the way The Message frames scripture but in this case, I love it. “Dwelt among us,” as we sometimes put it can, for me at least, create the feeling of almost a ghostly apparition drifting in an around us. But when it takes on the normality of ‘moving into the neighborhood’ it’s a powerful reminder of how significant Christmas actually is.

For the first time humanity was no longer separated from its God. There was no distance, no ‘you’re up there and I’m down here, what would you understand…’ Not any longer. No, for the first time, the Word became a person – Jesus Christ – and moved into the neighbourhood.

But here’s the challenge. Is he still in the neighbourhood? You see, as Christians, those who have ‘another of the same’ (the Holy Spirit) living in us, it’s our job to make sure The word still has flesh and is still alive and active in our communities.

When the God of heaven took on flesh in the form of God the son the people of the earth heard things they had never heard before, they saw a person who reflected a God of justice and mercy like they’d never known before, they saw someone who came not be served but to be the one who served. They found a neighbour in someone who welcomed the ‘least’, who placed value on the dejected, who put people above programme and who “moved in” with his message. He was also willing to give everything he had in order for those who know didn’t know His father to be introduced.

Jump forward 2000 years.

Are we speaking in ways people haven’t heard before? In a world full of cynicism, hate and negativity we have the power to speak life, love and faith.

Are we reflecting a God of mercy and justice? In a world where media lets Us know up-to-the-minute news of tragedy and injustice, what are we doing to make sure the kind of fasting God wants (to loose the chains of injustice) is being carried out and talked about by a world looking for answers.

Are we serving, or waiting to be served? Seriously, if you want your friends, family and neighbours to meet Jesus, introduce them to a community of people who spend themselves on behalf of others. It’s so counter-cultural it’s life-changing.

Are we people who welcome the least, who place value on the dejected, who put people above (TV) programme?

Have we actually moved in to our neighbourhood or do we just slip in and out, maybe even for years?

Would we be willing to give everything we have in order of just one person to meet the God of Heaven, because we know Jesus and they could too?

This Christmas, can I encourage you ladies, let’s be empowered by the truth of the Christmas story. Let’s remember that with the Holy Spirit alive and active in us we are clothed with power from on high, and we might be the only WORD people ever read. Let’s MOVE into our neighborhood and share the love of God through sustainable friendships and a life reflecting a God who didn’t stay away, but who wants to ‘move in’ to our lives.

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