December 21, 2011
TEXT: 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16
WAITING WITH WORSHIP
Vicar Alex Post
 
“Now when the king lived in his house and the LORD had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies, the king said to Nathan the prophet, ‘See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent.’ And Nathan said to the king, ‘Go, do all that is in your heart, for the LORD is with you.’” (1 Sam. 7:1-3)

Dear friends in Christ, it has been twenty-four days since the First Sunday in Advent, when we began our preparation for the celebration of the festival of the Holy Incarnation. With only four days to go until Christmas, we have gathered to hear a remarkable and ancient story that can help prepare us to observe this festival with profound joy and gladness. On Christmas Day, we will come to the LORD’s house to worship Christ, the newborn King.

December 21, 2011
TEXT: 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16
WAITING WITH WORSHIP
Vicar Alex Post

“Now when the king lived in his house and the LORD had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies, the king said to Nathan the prophet, ‘See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent.’ And Nathan said to the king, ‘Go, do all that is in your heart, for the LORD is with you.’” (1 Sam. 7:1-3)

Dear friends in Christ, it has been twenty-four days since the First Sunday in Advent, when we began our preparation for the celebration of the festival of the Holy Incarnation. With only four days to go until Christmas, we have gathered to hear a remarkable and ancient story that can help prepare us to observe this festival with profound joy and gladness. On Christmas Day, we will come to the LORD’s house to worship Christ, the newborn King.

You will not hear tonight’s Old Testament narrative on the radio, see it on television, or read it in newspapers and magazines. It is a true story that took place nearly three thousand years ago. It is a moving story about King David, his pastor Nathan, and the king’s deep and genuine desire to give the Lord God the very best worship. It is a story that looks forward to the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who brings enduring and eternal peace to this fallen world. It is the story of King David, a pious king with a desire to build the Lord a temple befitting the worship he deserves from his people Israel.

Seven and a half years after he was anointed as king of Israel in Hebron, David defeated the Jebusites and made Jerusalem his new capital city. A transformation of this city was needed – this city had been defiled by the worship of Baal, a polytheistic abomination of cultic prostitution and idolatry. This transformation was brought about by the true worship of God. The ark of the covenant was brought in, so that the sin and idolatry of that place could be cleansed by the name and the presence of the Lord God of hosts.

One day, King David looked out of the window of his new palace in Jerusalem and was struck by the fact that while he lived in luxury, the Lord still dwelt in a humble tabernacle. This was a theological issue, so David talked to the prophet Nathan, his spiritual confidant and pastor. “The king said to Nathan the prophet: ‘See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent.’ And Nathan said to the king, ‘Go, do all that is in your heart, for the LORD is with you.’” King David was a builder. He built an army, a kingdom, a city, and a palace. He was also a gifted composer and musician.

Anyone who has been privileged to be involved in the building of a new church building or a new organ knows the joy, excitement, and participation of being involved in such a worthy undertaking. One can easily imagine David busily working out plans for the new temple that very night. But that same night, the Word of the Lord came to Nathan, instructing him to tell King David that he was not permitted to build the temple.

All of us have experienced disappointments in life, including disappointments in our life together as the Church. One of the greatest disappointments in King David’s life may well have been when he was told by God himself that he would not have the privilege of building the temple. David, whose Psalms are still sung in the Church today, was not allowed to act on his plans to build a house of cedar for the Lord.  Through the prophet Nathan, God told David: “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 for my dwelling…I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you.” (2 Sam. 7:6, 8-9)

Then the Lord told David what he would do for him in the future: “And I will make for you a great name. I will give you rest from all your enemies. You will not make a house for me, but I will make a house for you – a house which will last forever. I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son…your throne shall be established forever.”

“And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.” (Luke 2:4-5) The Lord’s promise of an eternal kingdom and steadfast love would ultimately be fulfilled in this child of Mary, who bore the iniquity of us all and was crucified in our stead.

So what did David do after hearing these words from Nathan? He went back to that humble tent in which the ark of the covenant dwelled. He sat down before the Lord and prayed a beautiful prayer that was both a prayer of thanksgiving and a confession of faith. David thanked God for being with him thus far in his life as king. He thanked God for redeeming his people Israel from Egypt and its gods with the promise that they would be His people forever. He thanked God for promising to establish an eternal house for David. He accepted God’s promise that somehow, from his sinful flesh, an eternal kingdom would come in which the Lord’s “steadfast love would never depart.” Before David was the ark and the manna, which prefigured Jesus Christ Himself. Jesus said: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” (Jn. 6:51)

So today you also continue to come to the Lord’s house. Like King David, you come before the Lord, bringing your litany of disappointments, worries, sorrows, regrets, sin, and guilt, as well as a litany of joys and blessings received. Here you sit in God’s house, where his Word and Spirit give you the courage and strength to pray, give thanks, confess the faith, and ask the Lord to bless you, your family, and the Church of God so we may dwell in His presence forever. In our Advent and Christmas worship, we say back to God what He has revealed to us through His saving deeds and Word. In creed, prayers, hymns, and canticles, we confess and praise God for sending his Son to live, die and rise again to atone for our sins and give us eternal life. Advent purple, with its time for preparation, repentance, and joyful anticipation will soon give way to a truly white Christmas, when white paraments will decorate our altar. White shows a celebration of our divine and holy Savior, Jesus Christ, who brings us His righteousness, holiness, and eternal life. The promise will be fulfilled. It will not disappoint us. Rejoice and be glad as you worship Christ this Christmas! Your everlasting King has come as a baby to save you. “Thy Kingdom Come.” In the name of Jesus, Amen.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
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