2 Before Lent

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Reading:

Sermon:

Seven years ago, some good friends of ours gave up lucrative jobs sold their house, and virtually all their possessions, said goodbye to their friends and families and left their comfortable middle-class life to move into a new neighbourhood - the Klong Toey Slum in the middle of Bangkok. There they have lived ever since, along with their two children, in a rat infested house, in a dangerous and risky place, alongside and amongst the poorest of the poor. They have gone as partners of an organisation called Urban Neighbours of Hope, a Christian charity, whose small teams move into areas of extreme poverty, to simply live amongst their neighbours, to live as their neighbours do; sharing their lives and limited resources with them, living in solidarity with the people of Klong Toey and in so doing bringing transformation from the ground up. Over these last seven years they have been embraced by that community. They have come to understand deeply both the joys and struggles of life in the slums, because they live that life with them. They have experienced first-hand the daily challenges of all those living in that special neighbourhood.

John 1 v 14 says ‘The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us’ …The Message Translation puts it this way ‘The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighbourhood’

Whenever I read these words in John 1, I think of Jon and Elise. I think of how they gave up everything they knew, everything that gave them their identity and strength in their home culture and chose to make themselves downwardly mobile, in order to follow Christ, to incarnate the life of Christ in one of the poorest most chaotic neighbourhoods on earth.

And it gives me just a little bit more insight into this incredible mystery that we read here in John 1 that the Word, Christ himselfbecame flesh and blood and moved into the neighbourhood.’

The wonder of today’s reading is that God himself became flesh and blood, he left the majesty of heaven, to be born as a vulnerable baby, in the nurture of very young, ordinary parents, to live a life that would be characterised by betrayal, misunderstanding (v 10 ‘the world did not recognise him’), hostility (v11 ‘he came to that which was not his own, but his own did not received him’) and ultimately lead to his death on a criminal’s cross.

And yet…he comes….Life and Light himself takes up flesh and blood.

The maker of all things, sets aside heaven to incarnate the nature of God on earth.

The good news of Jesus Christ – is that God is not a god who is passive, far off, distantly surveying the world and the devastating consequences of sin and death.

Our God, in the person of Jesus, enters into our world and takes on our human condition to live a life that we live. He experienced fear, he wept tears of lament, he grew tired and weary….

How our weary, fearful world in Covid needs to know a God who comes close, whose compassions are aroused by the suffering being experienced by so many, who understands the lament of a lost friend, who has experienced the fear of death, whose body and mind has known exhaustion and fatigue.

Over the Advent period our church released a video testimony a day of an ‘Advent Calendar of Hope’…one of the most popular videos was that of Bob who talked about knowing God’s hope during his long and complicated treatment for cancer. He told the story of how Jesus came close to him as he was alone on the cancer ward, surrounded by the beeping of machines, separated from all those he loved. 

In his story he used a sentence that struck a chord with many of us -

‘Jesus isn’t affected by social distancing. He will enter into your bubble, your household, into your very essence. He will come with love, support, care and compassion and hope for the future – you just have to open the door and invite him in.’

This day, whatever your context in this isolation, may you know Christ moving into your life, your bubble, your neighbourhood. May you know the God who makes his dwelling among us still, the God who hears the prayers of the destitute, the fearful and the weary. May you know the God who brings light even to the deepest darkness, whether that is to the slums of Bangkok, the Covid wards of our nation, or the isolation of your own home.

Questions:

  1. What does the truth of the incarnation particularly mean to you at this difficult time?
  2. What difference does it make to you that Jesus experienced the human emotions that you experience?


Page last updated: 16th February 2021 4:58 PM
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