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Christmas Day - John 1:1-14

Earlier this year, Shepherd of the Valley generously sponsored seven "tiny homes" in Tarzana for children of God experiencing homelessness.

These clean, modest transitional shelters are located in one of several tiny home communities launched and managed by Hope of the Valley.

Last week, Hope of the Valley's Founder and CEO Ken Craft took to the streets with fellow executive Rowan Vansleve for one hundred hours to sample life without shelter.

Why did they do this?

Maybe it was just a publicity stunt.

Ken identified a different reason: To go to that next level of being an effective leader, I need to walk in their footsteps, he said beforehand.

I'll never know completely.

But I want to at least taste of that pain.

Ken and Rowan's taste included cold, rain, sleep deprivation, and aching feet and bodies.

They encountered kindness, generosity, ridicule, rejection, alienation, and scorn.

They learned how hard it is to find a toilet, a blanket, and a safe place to sleep.

They met a person who tried to convince them to go to Hope of the Valley, and someone else who donates to Hope of the Valley insisting that they move along.

They felt shame they couldn't explain, a loss of dignity and identity, and desperation that led to choices they would have otherwise never made.

I don't know how people do it, Rowan said less than halfway into their immersion.

At the end he said, This took me back to the heartbreak.

You can watch the documentary video about their experience at Hope of the Valley's website if you want to learn more.

For both men, the crucible of surviving the streets for a few nights reinforced their conviction

that no one deserves to live like this and their resolve to give people a pathway to shelter and dignity.

That is what the gospel of John is all about.

In my Father's house there are many dwelling places ... I go to prepare a place for you, grown-up Jesus said to his frantic friends the night before he died.

He is leaving to provide them a home after coming to secure their dignity.

The Word became flesh and pitched tent among us, John writes; to all who received him, who trusted in his name, he gave power to become children of God.

A Christmas prayer of the church puts it this way:

Almighty God, you wonderfully created and yet more wonderfully restored the dignity of human nature.