Nativty #17: A Painting from PNG

The Gospel of John proclaims that the Word (which was with God in the beginning and which in fact is God) became flesh and moved into the neighborhood. Two thousand years ago (give or take), Jesus took on the flesh of a Jewish boy and moved into a neighborhood in Nazareth.

After Jesus death and resurrection — when he ascended into heaven — he promised His followers that He would send the Holy Spirit to live IN them (and not just WITH them). That event initially happened at Pentecost. Today, the very Spirit of God lives within all those who have turned to God for salvation through Christ’s work on the cross.  That means that God is still moving into neighborhoods all over this world.

In my neighborhood, He drives a Jeep and wears flip-flops and grills burgers on the patio. I talked to my friends (Mark and Charlene) this morning, and in their new neighborhood, He celebrates his birthday on January 7 instead of December 25 — and He wears a lot more layers than in my neighborhood because it is cold there.

There is a neighborhood in Papua New Guinea where Jesus eats yams and grubs. An artist in that community painted this nativity. While you and I know (and the artist may also know) that  a literal translation of the Nativity in art would surround the Baby with Jewish parents and sheep and goats and maybe a cow — a more true translation has God moving into the culture of the artist. And yes, the Baby is surrounded by pigs and a rat and a cockatoo.

Today, I celebrate the One who moves into neighborhoods — full of grace and truth — and who invites us all to come Home with Him to the place He has prepared for us to be together.

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