This weekend the lectionary has us reading John Chapter 1. The spinning spiral of words that seek to propel us to the heights of the highest mountins and dive us down deep into the mysteries of our faith. Of all the interesting and powerful verses to look at the one that sticks out to me being in the season of Christmas is, "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us." The funny thing about this verse is that the traditional way of saying it is, "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us." The word for dwelling and dwelt has its roots in the word for tabernacle. That is right, the foundation of the word is related to the movable tent where Yahweh dwelled with his people in the desert after leaving Egypt.
I find the connection of dwelt to tabernacle so powerful because of what the tabernacle itself represented. First and foremost it was a place where the people saw and knew God was with them. Just like us, the Israelites needed to be reminded that God was with them. Second, the tabernacle was on the move. As the people traveled so did God. It reminded the people of God that again God was with them where ever they went. Third, the tabernacle on the inside was fashioned with heavenly beings, lamps in the shapes of trees, and God's throne. The whole thing was meant to remind you of a time and place when God and people walked, worked, and ruled togehter: Eden. The Garden of Eden was the place where and time when nothing separated humans and God.
Jesus as the one who tabernacled among us exists as a powerful symbol himself. As one being compared to the mobile God tent, he reminds us of the story we are in. Jesus as the tabernacle reminds us that God is with us. Finally, Jesus reminds us that where we go, so he goes. In the Christmas season we are reminded of Immanuel, God with us. So despite the christmas parties being over and the presents being given and played with, remember the wonderful gift of the festival: God is with us.