Into the neighborhood

The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.

John 1:14, The Message

Went with my family to see Endeavour at the California Science Center. It was awesome. Before moving into the hangar where the shuttle is, we viewed a time-lapse film of Endeavour’s 68 hour drive from LAX to the Science Center. No, this wasn’t just an especially bad day on the 405. Endeavour took surface streets, down long stretches of familiar retail roads, past LA landmarks, and through residential blocks. Along the way, crews worked to negotiate Endeavour’s 78 foot wingspan past yard trees, utility poles, and rooftops packed with neighbors and paparazzi gathered to watch this strange visitor.

Watching this brought to mind the text we often hear around Christmas, from Isaiah 40:

the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert
a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
and all people will see it together.

It was dramatic, at points, to see the $1.7 billion wonder of modern science scoot past South Central apartment balconies in LA’s most economically depressed neighborhoods. The planners of this route, “Mission 26,” mapped it according to roads and areas that accommodated the shuttle’s size and transportation requirements. In any environment, it makes for a conspicuous visitor. Along streets that often get national focus for social crises, political debate, public tragedy, and hip hop exposition, Endeavour seems strangely ill equipped for the mission. Just passing through.

So, I am reminded of the king who came down that road Isaiah commissioned, who was oddly inconspicuous and underwhelming. Who fit just fine along any route, and chose to walk our streets. Who came along without announcement. Who might even stop in along the way: “Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.”

The one who, as Isaiah puts it, “with the breadth of his hand measured the heavens” we’ve meagerly reached out for with Endeavour, walks here. This is Christmas: that God does not merely pass through in glory, but that the mission of Jesus is to be here now.

Comfort ye, my people.

May we prepare the way that all people might see this together.


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