In our staff meeting, we were talking about the different members that make up our community. There are those who have relocated here from another city or country, or at least from a context very different from the one on the streets outside of our doors. There are those who have returned after an extended time living outside of the community whether they have gone away for school, or have been sent back, or have decided to come back and be with family. Then there are those who have remained and have never left the community at all but have stayed there since birth in the same context where they still live and work.

All of these members are absolutely necessary to make a community thrive and we discussed what it means for all of us, regardless of the context we come from, to take on the ministry of presence. To be present with those around us and to be compassionate and empathetic to all of our neighbors.

The conversation led to a discussion of the ultimate ministry of presence, the ministry of Christ himself. This time of year, our thoughts naturally turn to him. He serves as the best example of a “relocator” that we could ever have. He left a place where perfection was the norm and tears and brokenness did not characterize his neighborhood. He set aside his divinity, and put on human skin. Down he stepped into our world of wrecked systems and grief and sorrow. He became God in the flesh, the Incarnation, Emmanuel, God with us.

John the apostle was a personal friend of Jesus. John spent time with Jesus, observing the very human side of the Son of God, and then he wrote these words in his Gospel (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 Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Instead of God just speaking a few words to try to comfort a hurting world, he put skin on, became one of us and waded into all the hurt and suffering that we endure. He observed firsthand injustice and pain, unfair judgement and betrayal, sickness and death. He put it on like a coat and walked around in it. He got sick and he felt tired, he lost family members and friends so that he could understand what it meant to be us, to feel like us, to know us.

He was present in this word and ultimately he made a way for us to know God by redeeming the world back to God by taking on all the dirty mess of sin on the cross and conquering it by rising again. He did it to know us, be close to us, and bring us back to God.

This season of Advent reminds us that God is near, he is present, he moved into this world, put on the skin of our experience and lived it. He calls us to the very same thing. That ministry of presence which requires more then simply living but being present in the suffering and grief and pain and injustice around us. Because he is alive in us, we can put on some of him and walk around in the world loving others, caring for them and showing them that God is in the neighborhood.

Make sure to visit our social media to check out the photos from our Christmas celebrations in both of our programs! 

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