God is with us, and moved into our neighbourhood. This absurdly intimate statement of Christmas morning is exactly what John is saying to us in the Gospel we just heard. God is with us, and moved into our neighbourhood. It's absurd because the idea of God moving into our neighbourhood sounds beyond comprehension. Like, does God suddenly live in the condo next to us? Does God get a moving truck, unload all of God's belongs, and knock on our door with a plate of warm cookies to introduce Himself to us? Well, yes, that's exactly what God does, and before anyone thinks the vicar has actually lost his mind- follow me for a moment, because this is what makes this morning, this Gospel, this manger, this moving into our neighbourhoods so intimate. Because it's permanent.
John is a unique evangelist for us, having the latest written account of Christ’s life and ministry from around 90-110 AD. This is important because of what John is saying to us through this Gospel is that Jesus was preexistent of this world, that he is not just a manifestation of God, but a representation of God's intervention on earth. God therefore, became human like you and I, was birthed like us, laughed like us, cried like us, was anxious and ridiculous like us, and died like us. This is important because if God, in Jesus, just showed up like some kind of Star Trek transporter moment where he materialized in perfect adult human form- God’s intervention would be temporary because God could just beam Himself out of this world when He wanted to. Rather, in the full humanity of Christ, God planted Himself in our neighbourhoods, showed up at our local pub and coffee shops, shopped at our grocery stores, and lived with us. God lived WITH us.
Living with someone is never easy. I remember well the turmoil of getting a new roommate when I was in seminary, wondering who they were, what they were like, and how they’d fit in. Despite all my best efforts, asking for a quiet, no party, clean roommate, I always got at least one loud one- you know the kind that can turn a world upside down by simply opening a door and saying hello- and nothing will get rid of them. Well, that's what it's like when God moves into our neighbourhood, it's not temporary, it's permanent- loud music, new patterns, and all. When a new person moves into our neighbourhoods- into our condo building, the balance we experienced in life- the patterns, are changed forever. That's sometimes why we get grumpy at our stratas or neighbours over new noises and changes. We want a life where we are left alone, our homes are quiet, and things just work. We spent a lot of money on our homes, they should be quiet! But then in comes Jesus like a ton of bricks and upends all of that which is the cosmic reorientation we hear this morning.
It's weird that on the morning of Christ’s birth, we do not hear the story of Luke from last night with the usual suspects. You know, the shepherds, angels, Mary and Joseph. Rather, we hear the prologue to John’s Gospel that tells us the whole cosmic order of our world has been shifted. But why? Because this birth is not an after thought, but an entire reorientation of God's self to us. In Advent, a time of joyful expectation and preparation, we reorientate ourselves to God's kingdom work- feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, tending the sick, making community with outcasts and sinners just like us. In the same way, throughout human history, God has been reorienting God's self to us over and over again. God created the world, and formed us in His own image we hear in Genesis, and yet we turned away from God. Over and over, God came to us, and we turned away, but God never stopped showing up. God kept getting closer and closer to us, until finally it was time for God to come among us as one of us- in the baby Jesus- permanently.
The Greek text for “word”, is logos, which connects us to the creator God of Genesis, in a much deeper way than just the spoken word we are listening to now. In Greek, logos is at its heart the logic of all action and thought in human experience. Logos is the reason we do anything, the reason we exist. Logos is the order of all seen and unseen. Therefore, the Word took on human flesh and moved into our neighbourhoods is the reason and logic behind everything we are and are becoming is now inseparable from us- just like the neighbour who moved in and changes our condos forever. Like John the baptist, and the shepherds and outcasts of last nights story from Luke, we are witness to this logic now present among us with our lives. But why? Shouldn’t this moment speak for itself?
The heart of all logic, in John, is God’s Word made flesh in Jesus, a word of promise and presence among us- despite our abilities to forget it, ignore it, or relegate it to some cute story we share once a year. God's Word, God's logic at Christmas is not a story for us, it's a story about us, and the continual work of reorienting our humanity. It’s a story about us that because we are worth so much to God, God has to be next to us, as one of us. It's a story about us because in it we find the freedom of God's world to be who we really are. It's a story about us because in it God brings justice, equality, and peace into the darkness of our lives, and not even the false fables in our heads that tell us we aren't enough, that we aren't loved, that we aren't worth anything, can overcome the light that unveils to us the face of redemption in the Child Christ. A face that sees not the lies we tell ourselves about who we are, but only the incredible joy and excitement of seeing us that only a baby is capable of. This cosmic reorientation requires something of us this morning, however, it requires we do something because of what we have seen.
So church, when at the end of our worship this morning I send you out into the world I will use these words. “Go now, to where God has given you authority in your life. Return no one evil for evil. Clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and tend the sick, stand in the margins of society and preach Jesus…. What this commission and blessing means for us this morning, this Christmas is this. Go into the world, and use the gifts God has given you in your life for creativity, passion, community, hope, and love, and reorientate everything you see because of the reorientation you’ve experienced here this morning. Show the world that the hungry are being fed in this place, and invite them to join you in that work. Show the world that the sick are being cared for in this place, and invite them into that work. Show them that the home we make in the margins of society is were real life happens, where change is possible, were freedom is found, where wholeness is made manifest, and invite them into that work with you. I have moved into your neighbourhood, says our God, and reoriented you, your world, and your cosmos forever- all I ask is you join me and bring others with you.
This is the message of Christmas, our world is turned upside down by a God who will not be contained by our expectations, who moves through the most unlikely of people- through us, to bring about a kingdom of justice, joy, and freedom in God’s reorientated neighbourhood for all. Come, see and touch that neighbourhood this morning, and tell the world what you’ve seen by what you do with your life from today onward. Christ our Lord, to us is Born. Let the heaven and earth shake with Joy! Go tell and show the world Church! Christ is born! Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!