2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16 † Luke 1:46b-55 † Romans 16:25-27 † Luke 1:26-38
A video version of this sermon can be found here.
Would it surprise you to know that this story from Second Samuel, this story of the victorious King David, now settled in his reign, now looking to build a permanent temple for God did not actually come together at a time when “the king was settled in his house and the LORD had given him rest from all his enemies around him”? Would it surprise you to know that it came about much later, during captivity in Babylon, when the temple that David’s son Solomon ultimately built for the LORD lay in ruins along with much of the civilization Israel had known at its peak, when the best and the brightest and the most privileged of Israel’s citizens had been forced to resettle as refugees in a foreign land? Would it surprise you to know that it came about when there was no rest, no house, and no king?[i]
Perhaps it doesn’t surprise you. Perhaps it surprises you no more than knowing the story of Mary and the angel Gabriel was written down a full generation or two later, at a time when this one whose birth is foretold, this Jesus the Messiah had been executed as an enemy of the state and the church, and this miraculous child John, of the eighty-something year-old Elizabeth, had been beheaded, and when the very structure of Jewish life that serves as the backdrop to this story had been undercut, when there was once again no rest, no house, and no king.
What is it about this hope of ours, that it seems to thrive when things are unfinished, that it seems to flourish most in trouble, in suffering, and in need? What is it about this mysterious faith of ours, that it is strongest, according to Romans, when revealed after long ages of being kept secret? What is it about this love of ours, that it is made perfect in weakness?
Isaiah 2:1-5 • Romans 13:11-14 • Matthew 24:36-44
Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord. It is Isaiah’s invitation to Jacob’s house, and our own house too. It is a good word as our flight through the cosmos on this spinning planet promises even longer nights, before we begin the journey in a few weeks back toward the light. Let us walk in the light of the Lord.
So we in the Northern hemisphere become more and more aware at this time of year of the value of the light. We are mindful of the importance of our sight, of our need for lamps to illumine our way, of light to show us the path in the darkness.
Let’s say it another way. Advent is a double-edged sword. It cuts both ways. No doubt we want to fly toward Christmas, avoid this season of uncertainty and move toward that instant gratification that Christmas and all our carols preach. But it isn’t the whole story, and we know it.
St. Andrew Sermons