|First reading||2 Samuel 7:1-5,8-12,14,16|
Once David had settled into his house and the Lord had given him rest from all the enemies surrounding him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, ‘Look, I am living in a house of cedar while the ark of God dwells in a tent.’ Nathan said to the king, ‘Go and do all that is in your mind, for the Lord is with you.’
But that very night the word of the Lord came to Nathan:
‘Go and tell my servant David, “Thus the Lord speaks: Are you the man to build me a house to dwell in? I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, to be leader of my people Israel; I have been with you on all your expeditions; I have cut off all your enemies before you. I will give you fame as great as the fame of the greatest on earth. I will provide a place for my people Israel; I will plant them there and they shall dwell in that place and never be disturbed again; nor shall the wicked continue to oppress them as they did, in the days when I appointed judges over my people Israel; I will give them rest from all their enemies. The Lord will make you great; the Lord will make you a House. And when your days are ended and you are laid to rest with your ancestors, I will preserve the offspring of your body after you and make his sovereignty secure. I will be a father to him and he a son to me; if he does evil, I will punish him with the rod such as men use, with strokes such as mankind gives. Your House and your sovereignty will always stand secure before me and your throne be established for ever.”’
I'm not good with shopping. Perhaps it is a general aversion to crowds and noise; or, as my children would say, a reluctance to enter into the Christmas spirit.
But this time of year I find myself asking so many questions. What is the spending all about? It is good to be hospitable; to be generous; to be thoughtful. But should we be judged on our buying expertise or our knowledge of the latest trend? Perhaps it is me - a' Bah Humbug' amongst the frivolities.
Is it good though - to prove our affection- our love- through 'goods'? Or, more specifically to be made to feel that we should prove it through 'goods'? Is the miracle of Christmas so dependent on it's rewards? Or is the world heaping it's own good intentions onto a miracle that did not live up to expectations?
Too easily we side with the Wise Men- rename even them as 'Kings'. We build houses; furnish them with luxurious comfort; deck the halls with something that glitters more than boughs of holly; and pile our precious gifts under cedar trees of our own fashioning.
And yet, the Lord is happy with his tent; his hillside; his cave filled with animals ripe with the musky smell of fleece and fur. The Lord delights in his world and most wonderfully he delights in us.
The castle of the God child is a peasant woman; she is his house; his home; his comfort. After her, there will never be a place where he can lay his head. God will only find rest in a human being; and so in all human beings; we are each of us - God's House.
Tonight we will remember this beginning; we will share in this gift; we will bow our heads with the homeless and the outcast and see God in the flesh of a child; a poor child; a destitute child.
Shall we build him a house? Attempt to impress him with glitter and gold? Or shall we, as the words of the carol suggest, offer him a home; offer him our heart? Offer him ourselves?