“The Word became flesh . . . and moved into the neighborhood.”

—John 1:14 in The Message

 When my kids were small, the one television show I usually found myself watching along with them was “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood”.  Some people made fun of Mr. Roger’s sweaters and sneakers and simple sets and songs compared to today’s high-volume animation. But Mr. Rogers could tackle tough subjects like death, divorce and war in his calm, kind voice, offering children reassurance that there was much good to be found in people, despite a world that seems increasingly chaotic and self-centered.

Mr. Rogers

 One writer said of Mr. Rogers (who was also an ordained Presbyterian minister): “He never condescended, just invited us into his conversation. He spoke to us as the people we were, not as the people others wished we were.”

November 30 marks the beginning of a new Christian year.  We are familiar with making New Year’s promises to diets and exercise in January, but how many Christians make resolutions to shape up our spiritual life at Advent?  Although I usually stick to the more traditional translations of The Bible, I was struck by the wording of John 1:14 in The Message: “The Word became flesh . . . and moved into the neighborhood.”

How would our walk as Christians be different this year if Jesus moved into our neighborhood?  Would we work harder at getting to know Him?  Would His acceptance of us as who we are motivate us to be more accepting of others?  Would our neighborhood be a calmer, more peaceful place?  More laughter, less arguments? More time together, less stuff to distract us from what’s important?

Paul describes Christ’s kind of neighborhood in 1 Thessalonians 5:14-16, a place where we: “encourage the faint hearted, help the weak, be patient with all . . . do not repay evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all.  Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances.”

Wouldn’t that make for a beautiful day in the neighborhood?