Home for Christmas
2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16 7:1 Now when the king was settled in his house, and the LORD had given him rest from all his enemies around him, 7:2 the king said to the prophet Nathan, “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.” 7:3 Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that you have in mind; for the LORD is with you.” 7:4 But that same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan: 7:5 Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the LORD: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? 7:6 I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. 7:7 Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” 7:8 Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the LORD of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; 7:9 and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 7:10 And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 7:11 from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house. 7:16 Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever.
- As we get out the Christmas lights, ornaments and tinsel to decorate our homes this year, it might have been a struggle for some of us to feel the holiday cheer. We have truly been through a lot this year and we are still going through! Nevertheless, as we prepare to celebrate the arrival of Jesus, what we are really called to do is prepare not just by decorating our homes, but by decorating our lives, with what matters: the hope, peace, joy and love of God.
- We are in the final stretch of Christmas preparations. Shopping, baking, decorating has made its way to a frenzied pitch, though perhaps a little less frenzied this year than others because of the pandemic. Still, why do we do all this? Because it’s Christmas and we are getting ready for guests! In previous years, this may have meant friends and family who would be gathering for special celebrations. We want the house to look good and smell good. We want to be able to offer the best we have for our honored guests when they arrive. Oh the horror –should folks arrive and find the house a mess, the boxes of unused ornaments not put away, shredded pieces of tinsel on the floor, half the string of lights on the bushes burned out or blinking but not on purpose, and the inflatable snowman deflated and laying limp on the ground; and instead of fragrant aromas drifting from the kitchen, the stench of burned cookies fills the air. You might think to yourself as you are sure your guests are thinking, this is a hot mess! This just isn’t right!
- That is precisely what was on the mind of King David when we find him in today’s passage from 2 Samuel. He was relaxing at home in his beautiful palace when he happens to notice out the window, God’s house—a tent—far from the splendor of his own abode with all it’s nice features. There he was in the lap of luxury and there was God in a shack. This just isn’t right!
- David then breaks with tradition and declares to Nathan the prophet (instead of the other way around) what he proposes to do and Nathan agrees. That is, until Nathan gets back outside and God calls him to the side and tells him to tell David—Nahh. I have liked my situation just the way it is—being able to be on the move.
- God reminds David through the prophet that in their relationship, God is the provider, not the recipient. God has brought David and the people of Israel to where they are and rather than David building a house FOR God, God will build a house OF and THROUGH him. It is debatable what David’s motivation was in wanting a house to be built for God; but God’s motivation in identifying David and the people of Israel as the chosen ones, was to make a home for them and through them the whole world.
- David was talking about houses but God was talking about finding a home—a home in his heart and ours. The physical structure was not what was important.
- God told David that David wasn’t going to be the one to build God a home; that David’s son was going to do it and everyone thought that son was Solomon (this is in verses we skipped). Solomon did indeed build a temple, but that wasn’t the home God meant. In fact, every time that structure is mentioned it is referred to as Solomon’s temple.
- • Everyone thought Solomon, except perhaps the gospel writer Luke, who reminds us that even though God seemed to have liked that building, God really had a different plan for his HOME.
- When God said “your son will build my home,” God was thinking of the one that Gabriel would call, “the Son of the Most High,” the one of whom it was written, “He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Luke 1:33
- No one really understood what God meant, not David, not Solomon. No one except maybe Mary. But even for her, this was a strange message this young unmarried woman received from the angel—God has chosen to make his Home in you. What? Those who have ever been pregnant know that at some point in your pregnancy as you start to feel the baby moving and it gets harder for you to move, you just feel “inhabited.” The angel said to her “Greetings favored one, the Lord is with you.” But the Lord was with her in a very particular way with a different kind of favoritism, a different kind of blessing, and different kind of HOME than anything David, Solomon, or we could’ve imagined.
- David wanted to build God a beautiful building where God could set high above the people and they would have to come to worship God there. But God wanted to build his home where people lived so that we might be surprised by how and where God shows up in our lives. God wants to find his Home in us that he might be with us where we work, play, laugh, cry, where our spirits are full of joy and where are hearts are broken.
- David wanted God’s home on a mountain, but God wanted his home in the womb of a young girl in a stable in the town of Bethlehem. God wanted his home in the pastures, and in the celebrations of the day, in the sick rooms, in the schools, and workplaces, in the courtrooms, prisons, even in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the hill of Calvary.
- God wants his home in our homes and in our lives too. As the angel told Mary, God calls to us and says, greetings favored ones! I’m coming home for Christmas. Is there room for me in your crowded, busy lives. I don’t need a special palace and I don’t need any cookies or milk to be left out. Don’t worry if stuff is in disarray and the house is kind of messed up or broken down. I do really good at fixing what’s broken and making things new. Don’t worry about the decorations, I’m bringing my own- hope, peace, joy and love- because I love you so much. So how about it? Can I come to your home for Christmas? How about forever?
Questions to consider throughout the week?
- Where in the community or world, where in our life as a congregation, where in own personal life, may God be wanting to do something, but is facing obstacles we erect by our own human desires, agendas, and dreams, however seemingly noble and our assumptions about what God wants?
- Are we really willing to accept God’s freedom to surprise us in unexpected ways—as in the coming of Christ? Could that same God be leading us in new and unanticipated directions?
- Sermon series adapted from the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference.