Over recent weeks the protests at St Pauls Cathedral have kept our news channels flooding with images of the Cathedral and tents sitting side by side. No matter what your views are of the protest we can’t help but notice the relationship between the two sat side by side. The Cathedral building is there to remind us of God’s glory, splendour and majesty whilst the tents remind us of the servant king who moved among us.
The reality is Jesus was a protester in every shape of the word. In John 1:14 it reads, “The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us”. The Message translation reads, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighbourhood”. The key Greek term in this sentence is ‘eskenosen’ which is often translated as dwelt, or came among us. But the exact translation would be to ‘Pitched a tent’ among us. Jesus is the King who gets off this throne, the place of power and safety to pitch his tent among us. Coming to sit shoulder to shoulder with mankind, in protest against sin, evil and the Devil. Jesus comes to pitch his tent to say this world isn’t as it should be, greed has prevailed, anger is prominent and selfishness has triumphed and this isn’t ok. This isn’t how things were meant to work out so he’s not sitting back any longer he’s coming to pitch up, move in and protest against it.
Jesus comes to be apart of the OCCUPY EARTH movement.
If you think about other occasions Jesus was a protester. He marches into the courts of Jerusalem’s great Temple where he disrupted the business of the moneychangers by turning over their tables and whipping they clean out the doors. What about the time when Jesus rides into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey when at the same time Pilot would have been riding into the city on the back of a white stallion with all the pomp and ceremony. Jesus rides in to the city on the East side, the side of the poor in the face of the empire.
Jesus wasn’t scared to speak out about the injustice in the world, he called for his people to seek justice, stand up against exploitation and oppression of people. The Jesus we meet in the Bible is somebody who constantly asks awkward questions.
We have to acknowledge that Jesus’ protest takes him beyond people groups, status and sides. Jesus would be protesting with the 99% but also would be looking for a dinner invitation from one of the bankers. Jesus’ protest takes him to earth, in the mist of all the sides, the groups and the arguments.
How have we come to make Jesus ‘meek and mild’ I will never know? How we have come to domesticate a lion I will never understand.
Jesus wasn’t scared to move in, stand up and speak out.
But the big question for us isn’t “What would Jesus do?” the question has to be “What does Jesus want us to do?”, what does he require of us?
For many of us it might be to relocate, to move to the places that need a disciple to pitch up and pitch in. In the same way Jesus moved from the safety of his throne to the chaos of earth, might he be calling us to also relocate to the abandoned place.
To protest against the injustice.
A protester is intentional about where they pitch up and where they occupy.
Jesus was intentional about his location; he was intentional about where he was to relocate. How intentional are we about where we occupy. Many of us imply occupy a place that we have ended up. A place we were born or a place we have found ourselves. There is nothing intentional about it.
Jesus’ relocation was intentional. The Question Christmas asks us is how intentional are we in our location. Why are we where we are? Are we here for a reason? Am I to do something? Am I to do more? Am I to say more?
Am I to be more intentional about my location?
‘Christmas doesn’t commemorate the birth of a super-good person who shows us how to get it right every time, but the arrival in the world of someone who tells us that everything could be different.’ Archbishop Williams