Engage the Word: Christmas in October?
The Gospel of John says in the first chapter: “And the Word became flesh and ‘dwelt’ among us.” This is a key verse for lots of reasons. But it also may be a clue about when Jesus was born. The word “dwelt” means “pitched his tent”. That’s interesting. Every Fall Jews still celebrate Sukkot, the Festival of Tabernacles or Booths (tents). “live in booths so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in booths when I brought them out of Egypt.” (Leviticus 23:42-44) In Chicago, a tent has been on display to honor this tradition. The Exodus was a great event. It was the paradigm for God’s salvation, delivering his people from bondage.
Today’s Engage the Word reading was from Luke 2:1-40. The angel said Mary would miraculously become pregnant and deliver a son named Jesus, whose Kingdom will never end. Jesus means “Yahweh Saves”. Matthew tells us he would “save his people from their sins.” So we’re reading a Christmas story in October! Weird? Not really. If John is giving us a clue, Jesus may have become flesh and pitched his tent during Sukkot! Dwelling among us as a sojourner. One who shared life with us, then gave his life away. One who leads an Exodus out of the bondage of sin! One who saves us from our sins and from ourselves.
There are good reasons to celebrate his arrival at the darkest point in the year, because he was the Light of the World, overcoming the darkness. But it’s not bad to read and celebrate his arrival now, too! How amazing that he became human. Living among our tents. Leading us finally home.
So remember you’re just a sojourner here. The fullness of the Kingdom is yet to come. Let’s draw together as the community of faith. Let’s be disciples. Let’s make disciples who make disciples. He’s still full of grace and truth. Let’s keep sharing the Good News and living toward the Kingdom! Don’t get too comfortable. There’s much to do and we’re not home yet!