Christmas 2019 is over. It’s behind us now and I am already seeing the countdown to Christmas 2020. The buildup is always so great – and then it is over. Today, the sales were on, people where spending Christmas cash, exchanging or returning gifts and the commercial side of Christmas was still in evidence at malls around the area. We actually thought about taking down some of our decorations, but we didn’t. We just couldn’t get into the mindset of forgetting all about Christmas so soon!
And chances are, if you attended a Christmas Eve service of some sort, you probably heard the Christmas story, the one we have all heard countless times from the book of Luke. You know the one – Joseph and Mary, no room at the inn, the birth of Jesus, shepherds in the fields guarding their flocks, the angels, the trip to see the Christ child, etc., etc., etc…. We could probably recite most of it almost word for word…
There is also a story in Matthew about the birth of Jesus, the wise men, Herod and other details of the birth of our Savior. But rarely, if ever, do we hear the Christmas story as told by the apostle John. That’s because his version is a little more earthly – we don’t read about the Magi, shepherds, angels or think of Jesus as the royal King, sitting at the right hand of God, dressed in robes and awesome in power, strength and presence.
In fact, in the Greek text, the translation of John’s story tells us that when God made the decision to dwell with us, it really says that He “pitched His tent” among us. So imagine that you wake up in the morning, look out your window and Jesus has set up a tent and is camping in your front yard. In fact, He invites you out to camp with Him. Maybe He is cooking fish, over a fire where your grass used to be – and He points at you, motions for you to join Him and enjoy the breakfast that He has prepared – for you…
Maybe Jesus hasn’t combed His hair – after all, He is camping… and just maybe He hasn’t brushed His teeth either. In fact, Jesus didn’t have many clothes to wear and so I imagine that there may have been an odor in the tent – and bathing was something that only happened once in a while.
Now, before you get upset with me for painting this picture of Jesus, (in no way am I trying to be sacrilegious) just imagine for a moment that this very human, yet very divine, Jesus experienced the joys and heartbreaks that each of us feels in our humanity. And that includes the mess and the dirt of everyday life.
It was this image about the humanity of Jesus that I heard preached on Christmas Eve this year. And while I knew of the translation from the Greek, and all that it entailed, I have never heard it presented publicly this way – most certainly not for Christmas. But the truth of the matter is that after camping with someone for several days, it becomes much easier to have authentic dialogue. And that’s the point here.
That’s because all the mystery and posturing has worn off. We aren’t trying to impress one another – we are hungry, probably tired, maybe wet from rain, or even cold… The filters that we used the first day or two are gone and we say what is on our minds. And that’s the conversation with Jesus that many of us are afraid to have – after all, He is the King of Kings. It’s not as easy to be authentic with a king on the throne.
But this human image of Jesus makes it easier for us to enter into genuine dialogue with Him. And that’s where Jesus says He will meet us – pitching a tent in our yards with us. That may be something that you haven’t heard before but it is right there in the Greek text. Admittedly, this takes some getting used to. But I hope that you are intrigued by the idea – because Jesus desires to enter into a close personal relationship with each of us.
The verse for tonight is from the opening chapter of John where it is announced that Jesus will “dwell” (pitch His tent) among us. John tells us, in John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
My encouragement this evening is that Jesus wants us to join Him in a decidedly human adventure – camping. My prayer is that you will accept this invitation and enter into authentic conversation with Jesus. He wants to know your joys, sorrows, fears, hopes, dreams – all unfiltered and maybe even raw in your presentation. Because this is one of the images of Jesus that the New Testament presents to us this, and every, Christmas! Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…