It sits on the peace wall, an ideal property for our well-being project: on the outer rim of two communities, looking in both directions at the same time.
From one side of the wall, I spot a terraced house for sale and wonder how the estate agent is going to shift that one off the books. Walls plastered in graffiti, guaranteed to keep wounds open and angry, standing in the long shadow of the high-rise hutches that these good people are forced to call home: a house with little light and even less hope. Two girls pass me in the street, swinging plastic lemonade bottles and singing a song that does nothing to sell the location. Next door’s Alsatian bays like a starved wolf and stretches its chain to breaking point; no ‘welcome neighbour’ signals there either.
Then it hits me.…
Jesus moved in.
No well-being project, no return to a leafy suburb after a day’s work. Jesus moved in to places where chains were stretched and people starved, places with no light, no hope. He moved in to be identified with the poor and suffering, to be rejected by the ‘clean and shiny’ people of his day. He’d move into this drab house in a heartbeat, a chance to be close to people, sing their songs, drink their lemonade, feed their dogs, share their lives, feel their pain.
This Jesus tells the disciples something more about God as they walk together, revealing God’s ongoing, irrepressible desire to be with his people. Surely he talks now, as before, of a God who knows them by name, who is with them through the desert, stands with them against the raging tides of life, the fires of destructive forces, the God who leads them in love, the God who cares for the weakest and the most vulnerable, the poor, the crippled, the blind, the deaf… the God who longed for them so much that he chose to dwell among them.
The same God is with you now as you read. So, pick any house or any flat in your street. Imagine God moving in. Notice how it feels to imagine him living in your street; the God who moves in to be with you.