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Sermons.

Fourth Sunday in Advent – (B)                                                                                  2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16 and Luke 1:26-3                                                             December 21, 2008   

Today I will be touching on this wondrous story about the angel of the Lord visiting Mary, the would-be mother of Jesus… but first, I’m going to look back at the first reading for a few moments, because I believe it gives us a marvelous comparison. 

I think, when we explore these two stories together, we will find for ourselves and for our lives some things that challenge us, but also some very important promises for our lives. 

So, to begin, I will paraphrase the first reading:   

We have, king David…,                                                                                         who finds himself at a crossroads in his life… 

The story says “the LORD had given him rest from all his enemies around him…” 

That is to say, after all the many projects and tasks of his life thus far: after starting his career, after surviving various kinds of attacks and battles, finding much success, even building a great new house, suddenly king David, having become accustomed to such a fast-paced, busy lifestyle… suddenly “the LORD [was giving him] rest.”  There’s a lull in the action.  He is at, what we sometimes call… a crossroads in his life. 

And what is he supposed to do, now?  How many of us have ever gotten to a place in our lives and asked that question…

What now? 

So, what does David do?  He consults his spiritual adviser—the prophet, Nathan—and he says, “I’ve got this great idea, I like my new house so much, I think I’ll build one for God. After all, I’ve got nothing else going on, I should probably keep busy. 

Nathan at first thinks this is a good and noble idea…but, that same night, the Word of the Lord came to the prophet Nathan and says, (I’m paraphrasing). 

“No, no, no, no, no!  What ever made you guys think I wanted to live in a house?! 

I am God.  I am the one who acts for you.  I’ve been the one moving around in the world this whole time, and now you want to put me in a house.

I’ve been the one acting.  As for you, David, I the Lord have taken you from your humble beginnings and made something out of you, I have been with you wherever you went and every step of the way (not just in a house…or not just in a church I might add), I have kept you safe from your enemies out there in the world. 

And now, even this lull, this rest that you feel in your life, even this crossroads feeling—which has you not certain what comes next.  This is from my activity as well.  “It is I, the LORD, who has given you this time of rest.” 

Now, the overall message of this passage, I believe, is this:  God is acting:  In our lives, in the story that we are living in.  In the difficult chapters, it is God who is acting to help us through.  And even in the restful times—this is the work of God’s hand as well.  God is acting. 

And in the season of Advent, we turn to the future and we say as a church, with hope…

God will continue to act. 

Good things are coming.  God is still acting… 

Yet, we have a really hard time with this as people.  We have a really difficult time accepting this… that God is acting in our world.  We want to be the actors. 

1)     We have this story of David, a man of action, which reminds us that we sometimes think that everything runs because of our agenda.  But here we see that the Lord God set things up perfectly at this time to give David a time of rest…, but that wasn’t on David’s agenda, instead David decided to try to spend his time literally putting God in a Box.  This is the great, sad image of this story: David, who has had such a close walk with God, suddenly trying to relegate got to a box.  We do that sometimes,  Don’t we?

2)     Sometimes it gets even worse.  Sometimes, when God wants to act through us, we have a really hard time accepting it, because of our own prejudices and likes/dislikes.  There are a number of stories in scripture about God, wanting to work through his people.  Remember the story of Jonah, who God wanted to go reach out to a certain group of people, so that God could save them.  But Jonah said, no, I don’t like those people. My own preference (and my own reputation) is more important than your calling. 

But finally we have a third example in the scripture.  This Mary.  Whose agenda in life was decided, according to the story, entirely by God.  Talk about a reputation problem!  Hers could have been ruined by her pregnancy out of wedlock.  In fact, in those days, she could have been killed.  But suddenly, everything she had (which was very little for a woman living in those days)… suddenly everything was threatened.  Yet, she responds (exactly opposite of Jonah)  She submits to it—she has nothing to loose: 

“Here I am Lord, the servant of the Lord.  Let it be with me according to your word.” 

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, We are approaching the season of Christmas.  The celebration of Emmanuel – God with us.  And this is the truth of the matter.  God is with us.  Jesus Christ is acting in our world today.  However, in order to bear Christ, we need to learn from Mary today, the one who literally bore him. 

The Lord is real and the Lord is really acting.  But, are we like David, trying to put God in a box to be celebrated only on certain occasions.  Or are we like Jonah:  We know God would like to act through us—to talk to somebody at Christmas--, but we would rather not go to the ones he has called us to.  Or, are we like Mary: 

“Here I am Lord, the servant of the Lord.  Let it be with me according to your word.” 

Brothers and sisters:  may the activity of the Lord, leave here (this house of prayer) with you today, guide you to spread God’s love according to God’s will, and may you come to regard yourself, as a bearer of Christ to our community—or to wherever you find yourself this Christmas. May God’s activity work through you. 

And finally, I end with those of us who may be overwhelmed by the work to be done—let us remember that the activity is God’s and it’s too much to take on our own shoulders.  With Mary and David, the issue of trust is always at the forefront.  “Here I am Lord, your servant, but Lord, not without you! 

And remember the words of the angel Gabriel. 

“For nothing will be impossible with God.” 

--------------------

Pastor Joshua Magyar

418 W. Main St.

Sidney, MT 59270

jmagyar@pellachurch.net