The heart of the Christmas Story is that God has stepped down from the glory of heaven to be amongst us in the person of Jesus.
The beginning of John’s Gospel talks about The Word being with God and the Word being God. It seems at the very heart of God’s character is communication; words communicate something. God’s desire is to reveal himself.
The purpose of this revealing is connection. John continues in verse 12 of Chapter 1:
“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”
The purpose of God communicating with us is to bring us into relationship with himself. The Christmas story reveals to us the extend of that desire to both communicate and connect with the creation God made. I love the way Eugene Peterson’s Message version translates verse 14 of John 1:
“The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighbourhood.
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.”
At Christmas we celebrate God moving into the neighbourhood. It is this reality that is at the very heart of the Mission of God in our world and how our mission as the church should be shaped. God did not stay at arms length but ‘love came down’ at Christmas right into the midst of humanity.
If God chose to become one of us, ‘full of grace and truth’ as John describes, what does that mean for the us as church? I think it means that our mission should have generous hospitality at its heart. Within moments of being born the heavenly hosts were inviting shepherds to come and see this new born king, strangers from afar, in the form of wise men, were already on route. God threw the party open wide from day one. Let’s continue to have open doors and hearts at St Andrews. It also means, as we’ve been exploring in our ‘Church with Glass Walls’ series, that we need to ‘go out’ as much as we are saying ‘come on in’. If God literally moved heaven and earth to connect with us, person to person, then surely he’s calling His church to connect with its neighbourhood and beyond. That’s why it’s so exciting that the location of our building feels like it’s at the very heart of the neighbourhood.