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Moving in with Jesus: A grilled cheese parable

Eliza C. Jaremko shares some wisdom on the incarnation through the eyes of her 4-year-old.

cute toddler baby girl playing on toy kitchen at home, roasting eggs and treat you with apple slice, let's share

Photo by olesiabilkei

“Order please,” my 4-year-old asked, marker and notepad in hand.

“I’ll take a grilled cheese,” I responded.

She went to the play kitchen and returned a few minutes later with a plate of plastic food and wooden blocks.

“Yummy,” I said, pretending to eat. “This is the best grilled cheese yet.”

“Mommmmmmy,” she rolled her eyes, “that wasn’t grilled cheese.”

“Oh … what was it?”

At this, she launched into an epic story — a parable, if you will. “Well, you can’t eat grilled cheese because we don’t have any grilled cheese. The diner got really busy today. Everyone wanted grilled cheese! So, we made a lot of grilled cheese. Stacks and stacks of grilled cheese up to the sky! Then a giant, giant monster came. He ate up all the grilled cheese. Then the diner caught on fire and the monster ran away.”

Then this little storyteller said matter-of-factly, “And that’s why we had to move in with Jesus.”

“Wait, what?” I said, stunned at this sudden plot twist. “You had to move in with Jesus?”

“Yes. My brother and I slept in his nice, comfy bed.”

“You took Jesus’ bed?” I said, a little appalled. “Where did Jesus sleep?”

“In the attic,” she said. “He gave us his bed.”

Then she cleared my dishes and went back to the play kitchen.

Scholars may disagree, but I believe this child of God has a pretty good grasp on incarnational theology. Isn’t “we moved in with Jesus” just a different way to say: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14)?

Isn’t “we moved in with Jesus” just a different way to say: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14)?

So, if you have ears to hear, listen: when your grilled cheese is eaten by monsters, when your diner burns down, when your life gets turned upside down, Jesus is there. When we face hardship, injustice, division, grief, loss, and uncertainty, Jesus is there.

As we move closer to Christmas and the celebration of the birth of Jesus, I am finding much comfort in the mystery of the incarnation — that God chose to come down to this messy, chaotic, broken, and wounded world to live with us.

Modern English Bibles translate the beauty of John 1:14 differently:

  • “The Word became flesh and made his home among us” (CEB)
  • “And the Word became flesh and lived among us” (NRSV)
  • “The Word became a human being” (NIRV)
  • “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (KJV)
  • “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood” (MSG)
  • “That’s why we had to move in with Jesus” (New Revised Preschooler Version)

No matter what translation you choose, the truth remains: Jesus has moved into this world, into our neighborhood, into our homes.

What will Jesus find in your home? If your home looks anything like mine, then it’s possible Jesus might find piles of laundry, unwashed dishes, and an array of items that don’t belong where they currently are. And yet … that’s exactly how Jesus finds us — some piles of grief, unwashed dreams, and an array of feelings that don’t belong where they currently are.

The incarnation of Jesus Christ means that our everyday spaces are holy. This was always true for Jesus, who met people in homes during his earthly ministry.

We have only a handful of biblical stories about Jesus inside a place of worship, but we have story after story of Jesus inside homes. Jesus visited Mary and Martha’s home (Luke 10:38-42). Jesus stayed at Zacchaeus’ home (Luke 19:5). Jesus healed at Peter’s home (Matthew 8:14-15). Jesus preached and healed in his own home in Capernaum (Mark 2:1-12). In Jesus’ own home, so many people crowded in that Jesus might’ve even given up his bed to them (he certainly gave up his roof).

This Christmas, may Jesus move in right where you are.

This Christmas, may Jesus move in right where you are. May God be “with you” in the beautiful mess. May God surprise us once again with the birth of something new, the wonder of a miracle, and the shimmer of an epiphany.

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