In Bethlehem’s Babe God Moves In


Five years ago, Lavone and I moved from Greenville, Illinois to Indianapolis, Indiana.  It was the smoothest and most care-free move we’ve ever had.  We are grateful beyond words, and more comfortable than we Christmasdeserve in our home (which because of travel still seems quite new).  All the more so, when we acknowledge this Christmas time that more than 68 million people in today’s world are displaced from their home, among them in excess of 25 million refugees.  Make no mistake: The vast majority of the displaced would give anything to be home.  Similarly, the vast majority of refugees are the victims of injustice perpetrated against them and their loved ones.


Christmas is about Another who moved into places and among people well acquainted with such displacement and injustice.   For the most part, it turned out not to be the smoothest of moves for him.  In fact, over time it became painful—sweat, tears, blood, and death.  All for love of us and our kind.  Not the smoothest move at all.  A move leading to death.  And, only then, life.


One of our greatest joys in this season of life has come in the small shape of babies and children.  We have had the joy of welcoming seven babies, truly grand, into our family and home over recent years.  Great joy indeed!  We take this as a sign that our deepest joys in every season of life trace back to Another baby, in whom all little ones find welcome, blessing, and the Life they were made to live.


Strangely, these two images—moving to new places and the arrival of babies—merge in the Messiah whose birthday we celebrate.  This One moved into our neighborhood and set up his household, and he did it the hard way.  Birthed, raised, taught and apprenticed in practical and holy arts, offered in service to the left out and overlooked, the discounted and discredited, the humble and humiliated, the far-out and near who may not even care, the insiders and outsiders, and all the “in-betweeners,” whosoever will.  He moved in and offered self in service to them, all of them, even if it killed him.  Which it did.


During these special days, we celebrate the coming of this One as a baby, moving to our place.  He dared the vulnerability and danger of babyhood, he embraced and weathered the dark realities that make our place so tenuous, so “iffy,” and so unlikely a venue for glory.  That his embrace of such realities will end, or begin again, with resurrection suggests that there is no place that will not eventually become his place, and there are no people unwelcome in the Household he is setting up.


We enjoy our place and want it to be his place.  We delight in the babies, those who grace our family and those that grace other families of our world.  And we find grounding for our hope that One baby’s coming promises a world where glory frames our lives in ways we could never deserve, but can enjoy even now.


This Christmas let the joy of His coming make your place and the people nearest you the best gifts ever—for you and for others!


Published by David Kendall

Reverend David W. Kendall, an ordained elder in the Great Plains Conference, was elected to the office of bishop of the Free Methodist Church in May 2005. He serves as overseer of East Michigan, Gateway, Great Plains, Mid-America, North Central, North Michigan, Ohio, Southern Michigan, Wabash, African Area Annual Conferences; and Coordinator of oversight for the World Ministries Center.

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