Nazareth had a bad reputation. An unimportant town, hidden away in the mountains of Galilee, it was behind the times, lacked culture, used crude language and was not respectable, admirable or honourable. It was spoken about with disgust, was not the ideal vacation spot, was not a place to start a business or a nice family to move the community into. It had a serious lack or religious adherence and very low morals. No-one in their right mind expected the Messiah to turn up here. Indeed Nathaniel on hearing that this was where Jesus came from, incredulously asks the question “Can anything good come from Nazareth?!!”
This question often echoes in my ears as I walk around 'Veronicas', the infamous nightlife strip of Las Americas. This place has a bad reputation. The police patrol the streets. There is open binge-drinking, drug-taking, violence, sex, pick-pocketing, dishonesty, prostitution, lies, swearing and more. It is not respectable, admirable or honourable. It is often spoken about with disgust. It has a serious lack of morals. Many people expect that Jesus would not turn up here. But he does.
We have seen addiction broken, a suicidal man persuaded that there is hope and a young girl abused by every man she has ever known start to believe in a God that loves her. Drug dealers have been reduced to tears by the powerful words of Christ, girls have decided not to sell their bodies anymore. Young people slowly starting to wonder what a relationship with God would be like. A stripper hears the bible explained in a way that she understands and then wants one, whilst a heroin addict who is unsure if he still has a soul, comes to ask us what we think. A man diagnosed with hepatitis c and sentenced to a slow and painful death is miraculously healed one week and the next a young guy is moved to admit that he wants “what you all have”. We have stood bible in hand, sharing Christ, in the middle of the madness, prayed with people in the middle of the vomit and comforted and reassured in the middle of the desperation.
Jesus is willing to turn up in dark places, are you?