This article was originally published by The Mennonite

Advent day 19: Building bonds of love

Mark Rupp is the Pastor of Christian Formation at Columbus Mennonite Church.  

2 Samuel 7:1-17
Galatians 3:23-29

The opening verses of the reading from 2nd Samuel for today make sure we know that David is getting comfortable.  He is settling into his finely built house of cedar, and the enemies that had surrounded him have been subdued.  Things are going well.  David is feeling so blessed that he starts to think it is not fitting that the God who brought him to that place of comfort is still out back roughing it in a tent.

David does not come right out and say it, but both readers and God can guess what he has in mind.  Before he can start drawing up plans, God cuts him off:

“Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the LORD: Are you the one to build me a house to live in?  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. 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?’” 2 Samuel 7:5-7

God goes on to remind David of the history of the people of Israel and how God has been with them wherever they went in their wandering.  And then, with a bit of dramatic reversal and wordplay, God flips David’s idea on its head by revealing that instead of a house for God, God will make a ‘house’ for David, promising him that he and his offspring will be adopted into God’s eternal family. Unlike Saul, the previous king of Israel, David and his ‘house’ will relate with God as parent and child, never having to fear that God’s steadfast love will be taken away.

When we get too comfortable in our lives, perhaps we too start trying to put God inside a box.

Perhaps when things are going well, we too start to think that we need to put four walls around the God who has blessed us so that we can more easily mark who is inside that blessing and who has fallen outside of it. Perhaps we too are guilty of trying to ground God in a specific place, in a specific time, or in a specific identity.

Perhaps we too need God to flip our notion of what it means to build a house, to remind us that what is important is to become a family where love transcends boundaries.

“For in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.  As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26-28)  

This Advent we anticipate the coming of the one who is called Emmanuel, God with us. We remember that in all of our wandering, God has already been with us, pursuing us, calling us to an awareness of God’s Spirit all around us.

Rather than spending all of our time in preparation for the birth of Jesus by putting more stuff in boxes, let us prepare by renewing our commitments to becoming a new kind a family, one where the love we profess for one another refuses to allow us to be separated by difference of opinion or identity.

In this season of waiting and anticipation, let us become the kind of family that builds bonds of love rather than walls of separation.



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