Perhaps my favorite line in all of Eugene Peterson’s The Message translation of the Bible is his version of John 1:14a; “The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.”
Far from cheapening the mystery of the incarnation that John’s gospel highlights, it reminds us that the incarnation, the action of God’s Word becoming flesh, is itself universal and particular. The warm, familiar specificity of a word like neighborhood—as opposed to the vaguer “community” or the more general “humanity”—reminds us that God’s coming is for us, just as God in Christ is coming to be with us.
We, as children of God, have received God’s grace right where we are. This gift of grace is no less than the gift of the Christ Child, who makes God known to us. We and our neighbors are the subject of this last verse. “We have seen the glory with our own eyes … generous inside and out, true from start to finish” (John 1:14b, The Message) In Jesus, the Word-Made-Flesh, God has chosen to disclose God’s own self in flesh and blood so that we might recognize ourselves and our neighbors as children of God. Now, we can see our own neighborhood as the holy ground into which Christ comes.
A prayer: Long ago, O God, you moved into our neighborhood, becoming one of us, sharing our humanity. As we celebrate Christmas again this year, help us to truly see you in the face of all of our neighbors.
Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest. Amen