2 Samuel 7:1-3
You can find the service of Las Posadas in our Book of Worship. It is a unique service but it reminds us what the holy family went through when they arrived in Bethlehem. If we did this service here at church there would be people playing Mary and Joseph and then all the children and youth would be outside the church. The rest of the congregation is on the inside. Let’s do a little bit of the liturgy for the service: The right side of the church, you are those on the outside, the left side of the church, you are those on the inside.
Those Outside: In the name of God, we beg: will you let us enter? We are tired and we are cold. May we please have shelter?
Those Inside: You look dirty and you smell. Will you please keep moving. For your kind there is no place, for our inn is decent.
Those Outside: It is not by our own choice that today we travel. But the emperor has said that all must be counted.
Those Inside: For your reasons we care not, every room is taken. Can’t you see the place is full? You are bad for business.
It goes on for a little bit with those on the outside of the sanctuary explaining to those on the inside why they should be let in, using scripture to back up their claim. Finally those on the inside let them use a stable because the rooms are for rich travelers. To quote the cold looking Cub Scout in the picture, “It would have been nice if you really let them in and see if they really are nice.” This was the whole theme of our Advent Devotional. I’m sorry I forgot to label it as such but the theme was “No Room in the Inn.” Many of this year’s devotions asked us to look into ourselves and see if we too would let Jesus in. Do we have room for Jesus this season?
The innkeeper is a unique character in the Nativity Story because he is never mentioned. We don’t have a piece for scripture that explains anything about him. We don’t include him with our Nativity Scenes. Luke is the only Gospel that has the birth story in it and all it says is, “She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” As we have told the birth of Jesus throughout the generations we have implied that there must have been an innkeeper who turned them away. But whether there really was an innkeeper or not doesn’t matter the fact still remains. There was no room for them so they settled for what they could find.
Can we fault the innkeeper? Can we fault those who were working at the inn? That person didn’t know this was God’s son being born. That person just knew another baby was coming into the world to a young couple and he was all booked up. There was business to attend to. There was money to be made. Who has time to deal with a woman having a baby, which happens everyday. Is this innkeeper a bad guy? No, he is simply trying to make a living, look after his guests, and making people happy. What else could we expect. Anyway you look at it he missed out. The innkeeper was inches away from God’s son, from God himself, and never knew it because he was spiritually far away.
In today’s scripture we hear about the King David who is sitting in his cedar palace on a spiritual high. There was a lot happening in the early part of the book of 2 Samuel. In these first chapters David is fighting with to take his rightful place as the ‘anointed one’ and king of Judah. Those who were fans of the first King, Saul, didn’t like this and they went to war against each other. David’s house won out after sons were murdered and other great soap opera like stuff happens. David becomes king of all Israel and then conquers Jerusalem and then beat back the Philistines. David was on a military high. He had defeated his defectors, his rivals, and his enemies all because he was the one God anointed to be king.
David decides to bring the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem. The Ark contained the tablets the Ten Commandments were written on (at least version 2.0), some manna from the time the Israelites spent in the wilderness, some of the first scrolls of Moses and Aaron’s rod. This was the most sacred thing of all the Israelites. It was kept in the Holy of Holies which was the back section of the tent inside the tabernacle. Only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies, which held God’s spirit, and he did so only once a year. David loved the idea that now this piece of God’s law, this symbol and God’s presence would find a place of rest in Jerusalem, the City of David. David was so happy that the Ark and the Tabernacle was coming into his city, his new capital, his new place of great power as King, that he danced in his underwear in front of the processional. (Don’t believe me, look up 2 Samuel 6 and then Google ephod.)
David was on a spiritual high because under his leadership the Israelites had everything they had hoped for. They had their kingdom, their new capital, and now the Ark of the Covenant in their presence. Then while David was settled in his palace he has this thought, “Here I am, living in a palace of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent.” Scripture doesn’t give us his direct plans but we can tell by the rest of chapter 7 that the idea David has is to build a more permanent home for God’s presence. David’s idea is backed up by the prophet Nathan who tells to go with it because God is with him. Yet God has other ideas and informs Nathan to pass on the message to David that his idea won’t happen but God will see to it that David’s house and kingdom will endure forever before God and that his throne will be established forever (v.16).
We are only a couple of weeks away from the Iowa Caucus which officially starts the 20 year long process of voting for a new President of the US. As we have followed the 20 some odd debates the republican candidates have already had we can hear the pandering and the promises coming out. Between now and that first Tuesday in November we will here even more from everyone involved. For many of us it is really hard to hear all of these promises and claims and think they are all genuine. People may have good ideas, great concepts, and solid thinking but how much of that is tied up into their political ambitions. How much of it is them simply telling us what we want to hear so we vote for them and then they will do whatever they want for whoever pays them the most? It is hard to see through that political smokescreen.
Many people look at David’s idea here and think the same thing. He is on the high of his life. Politically, he is on fire. Spiritually, he is coming down off a mountain top experience. Economically, this are going great. Militarily, no one in the region can touch him. Is his idea to build a house for God to capitalize on this grand moment politically so he can be known for building God a house instead of a tent? Or is because he wants to honor God the best way he knows how. The thing is the way we think we should honor God isn’t always the way God wants to be honored.
This is how God answers. David is God’s ‘anointed one’ which in Hebrew is the word, messiah. In the Greek the word is pronounced, Christ. God promises David that he honor him forever because the one who will come will be from his line. Out of the house of David the Messiah, the anointed one, the Christ will come. The one that comes is born in a manger, in a stable, wrapped up in clothes because there was no room in the inn.
I am sure that when Nathan talks to David later and says that God thinks his idea is a bad one he was disappointed. How many times in our lives are the plans and thoughts of what we would like God to do not match up to what God really does? How many times do our plans match God’s plans? The trick is not to get so caught up in how God deviated from your plans but to rejoice that God is at work.
Think of a pair of glasses. Glasses help us see the world. We have tons of glasses to view the world through. We can view it from our family’s glasses. We can view it from our political affiliation. We can view the world through the glasses of our the things we hate, or the things we have to do. And we are blessed to be able to put on glasses that will allow us to see the world as God does. We can wear many of these glasses at one time. What God desires us to do is to put God’s glasses on first and then the others. If we see things through God’s eyes more often we will be surprised on what God has planned and what he is doing.
We need to have moments like David. Moments when we look around at our lives and we see how blessed we are. We need to have moments of dreaming big for God but we need to know that God also surprises the faithful. In the service of Los Posadas the insiders are surprised at the outsiders. David is surprised that God was fine being in a tent for how. The innkeeper was surprised, I’m sure later, to know that the Son of God could have been born in his inn, but instead he was born in a stable. God is full of surprises and enters our lives in so many ways that it doesn’t make sense to us very much.
But here is the good news, God moves in our lives. He stirs our souls and he wants us to be ready for the surprises he has in store for us. As we walk through this final week of Advent we remind ourselves that it is not Christmas yet. Next week will come soon enough. As we leave here today let me ask you a few questions, questions from the choir’s anthem today.
“Would I Miss the Miracle?”
If angels filled the skies tonight, would I hear them sing?
Would tomorrow find my saying it was all a dream?
Would I leave my bed and go outside to hear their song?
Would I go on sleeping until the morning dawned?
If a stranger knocked upon my door tonight in deepest need,
In my life would there be room for anyone but me?
Would I hear the voice of God within a Baby’s cry?
Would I open up my heart, and welcome Him inside?
Would I miss the miracle? Would I see the King?
Or would my life be so consumed with ordinary things?
Would I miss the wonder, the hope that Christmas brings?
Would I miss the miracle? Would I see the King?
And all God’s people said…Amen.