Archive for the ‘Luke 1:26-38’ Category

Behold the Kingdom of God!

Sunday, December 18th, 2011

4th Sunday in Advent B, December 18th, 2011
Pastor Brian Henderson-Trinity Lutheran Church, San Diego, CA
2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16

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As 2011 is coming to a close, there’s a lot to be thankful for, but there were also a lot of things that we might like to forget, and think of as a bad nightmare.  For instance, we are told that the peak in the foreclosures has not yet been experienced.  There are a lot of good people out there who will continue to lose their homes in 2012.

What started out as the American dream, has turned into an American nightmare.  I have personally met a lot of those good people who’ve lost their homes.  They’ve showed up in record numbers here at our church seeking help in our food pantry and our free community breakfast.  Each one, to the person tells the same story.  Their dream turned to a nightmare when they or someone in their household lost their job in the recession, and then were unable to find a new one.  As time went by, they were forced to choose between eating or paying the mortgage, they chose to eat, and so began the slow and steady decline to foreclosure!

Who’s to blame?  Is it the fault of the homeowner for buying more home than they could afford?  Perhaps.  Is it the fault of the mortgage broker and the banks, writing loans that they knew the perspective buyer couldn’t afford?  Maybe.  Or is it God’s fault?  God’s fault, why would I say that?  Well because more than a few of the people I’ve met have wondered out loud to me, why God allowed this to happen.  They wonder if God was trying to teach them something.

So is it God’s fault?  No, it was their decision to borrow or to give.  They were the ones taking the chance, hoping that God would bless their decision after-the-fact.  This is somewhat similar to the decision King David made, when he decided to build a house, a temple for God.

Since the time of Moses, the Hebrew people toted around the tabernacle of the Lord.  Although vast amounts of earthly wealth were used to create the tabernacle, it was still nothing more than a series of tents.  And now King David had just finished building his palace in Jerusalem, when he realized that the Lord’s Ark of the Covenant was still living in a tent.  So David gets an idea that he’s sure will please God: “I will build the Lord a beautiful temple!”  Now that he had the idea, David wanted to make sure that it would be blessed by God, so he found the Lord’s prophet Nathan and told him about his plan.  And what did the prophet say?  “Go (and) do all that is in your heart, for the Lord is with you.”  The only problem with this is, no one bothered to ask God what He wanted done!

So what did God want?  Well he wanted a home, but not one that David would build; He wanted a home that He would build Himself and establish by His own strength.  And this is where we discover that God’s no isn’t a bad thing, but a blessed thing.  It is the promise that something greater than we could ever imagine or think would be given in its place!

Now eventually, God did allow a house or temple to be built in order to worship Him, but it would not be a temple that could hold Him.  After all, He is God and He is present everywhere.  So while David’s son Solomon would be allowed to build, it would not be the building that would fulfill the Words of promise that came from God Himself.  Listen: “Say to my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, In all of the places where I have moved with all the people of Israel, did I (ever) speak a Word with (anyone), saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”  (Now) the Lord declares to you that the LORD will make you a house.  And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me.  Your throne shall be established forever.’”

Do you hear God’s “no” in those Words?  But do you also hear His “just wait” in those Words as well?  So what happened?  Well David’s son, King Solomon was allowed to build a house for the Lord, and after Solomon there were a few more from David’s family who sat upon David’s throne, but like all earthly reigns, it came to an end.  And yet God said that David’s house and kingdom would remain forever.  Did God foreclose on the mortgage to David’s reign and throne?  No!  God is not a man that He should change His mind, and He’s not like a bank that He should foreclose.  Behold the Kingdom of God.  A kingdom that comes after God’s no and in the middle of His just wait!

“And the angel said to (Mary), “Do not be afraid for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.  And the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” [Luke 1:30-32]

Behold the mystery of God’s Kingdom.  Sinful man thinks that he can take a dream and build something that will cause God to bless him; something that will contain the good pleasure of the Creator of the universe.  And God takes that desire and turns it on its head and makes something that will save sinful mankind from their bondage of thinking, living, and dreaming independent, apart from Him!

God used the temple in Jerusalem, a temple that expressed the dream of all people that one day their God and Creator would be pleased with them and live with them.  And through that earthly temple He pointed to an even greater temple;  a temple of human flesh, created by God and occupied by God.  He used our flesh, created in the womb of a virgin through the work of His Holy Spirit.  And then He sent His Son to forever live in that flesh so that God could live among His people.  Behold the mystery of God’s Kingdom!  That Creator moved into and lived among the created forever!  That which is all powerful took on the form of a humble servant.  That which can not contain God does in fact contain God; all of God!  The God Who is the creator of all, took on the form of man so that He could save sinful man!  The flesh of sinful men and women would forever be redeemed and inhabited by God!

Are there any dreams in your life that you’ve been holding onto, waiting  so long for God to respond to?  Have there been dreams that seem to have been lost or foreclosed by God?  Maybe what you thought was God’s final no was really His wait and see.  Maybe, you’ve been walking by faith for so long that you’ve lost track of where you came from and where you’re going?  Maybe you’ve lost sight of your final destination!

So where are you right now?  You are in His Kingdom of Grace!  A Kingdom you neither built nor established.  A Kingdom where your God comes to you embodied in His Living Word and Sacraments.  You can see and hear these things, and you receive them but you can’t explain them.  They are a mystery to you, and yet within the mystery you know by faith that your God is really with you.  In these things you’re shown a crucifix like this one and told that our God who came to us in our flesh died for you, for your sins, and by faith you believe this.  In the waters of your baptism, you are told that you were given a life giving bath of simple water empowered by His Word and Spirit.  By faith you believe that not only is your Savior Jesus Christ really with you, but He will never leave or forsake you!  In the Lord’s Supper, you are given simple bread and wine and through His Living Word you are told and you believe that within those simple elements are Christ’s very body and blood; given for you and shed for you… for the forgiveness of all of your sins.  And within this meal God proves that it was He who began the good work of faith by coming to us in our flesh, dying for our sins, and inhabiting our souls through our baptism, who will complete that work, all while He and He alone is nourishing and strengthening your faith so that you can wait patiently to see God’s wait and see turn into an “I told you so!”

In our Old Testament lesson this morning there’s one important part left out of our reading, and it is David’s response by faith to God’s promise of building a house that will last forever.  Listen, because his response is amazing: “Who am I, O Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?  And as if this were not enough in your sight, O Sovereign Lord, you have also spoken about the future of the house of your servant.  Is this your usual way of dealing with men?” [2 Samuel 7:18-19] The answer to David’s question is a resounding, yes!  This is always how God responds to His children whom He has called into His grace through Jesus Christ, by faith, through the power of His life giving Word!  God’s promise to build your house, to build your future is set on the solid foundation of His Holy Word.  You can’t afford this gift and you can’t earn it; but you can relax and celebrate it because God doesn’t foreclose.  While it’s true that He will allow you to walk away from this gift, He will never ever leave you nor forsake you!

So what is our response to all of this?  We simply cry out with the blessed virgin Mary and say, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your Word.”  AMEN!