A Promise Made, A Promise Kept
Sunday, October 25, 2020
Pastor Mark Aune
2 Samuel 7:1-17 NSRV
As I was looking up some material about Martin Luther this week in preparation for Reformation Sunday, a book advertisement appeared from Amazon in one of those popup windows.
The title of the book caught my attention – Welcome to the United States of Anxiety: Observations from a Reforming Neurotic. The book is written by Jen Lancaster.
I’m guessing the search engine noticed reformation in my search criteria and decided I needed to check this book out. USA – United States of Anxiety. I will admit to a small chuckle as this pretty much sums up what a lot of are feeling regarding the current situation.
Are you feeling anxious? Go ahead, give yourself an honest response as you contemplate the question. Maybe a little. Maybe a lot.
The national election is 8 days away.
The rate of Covid 19 infections are increasing and our public health experts are very concerned as we move into the winter months. If you are experiencing pandemic fatigue you are not alone.
I’ve been listening to parents of school aged children as well as educators and I’m hearing about the challenges of navigating school with online learning, hybrid learning and a desire for our children to just be back in school. It is very stressful for parents and educators and my heart goes out to them as well as our young people.
Our food shelves are working overtime. Health care workers are being stretched to the limit.
We continue to engage in matters of race and equality in our communities, important conversations that we need to have. Financial insecurities are real for businesses and for families.
What are you anxious about? Go ahead. Say it. It is ok to name it. We live in the USA – the United States of Anxiety.
Part of me takes a strange comfort in knowing we are all in this together. It does kind of help in a weird way. Sure, we all have different things we are anxious about, yet this is our reality right now so let us be honest about it.
Now contrast your answer to my question with the first part of our reading for today from 2 Samuel. King David doesn’t appear to be anxious about anything. When things are going well, and life is without any major bumps in the road the anxiety level is much lower.
King David had nothing to be anxious about. In fact, things were going so well for him, all he had to worry about was what to do about getting a nice house for God.
The Ark of the Covenant, the very presence of God was housed in a tent and David didn’t think that was good enough for God.
Now when the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, 2 the king said to the prophet Nathan, “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.” Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.”
The problem with what Nathan says to David lies in his word, “do all that you have in mind.”
David wants to build God a house, a temple. This is what he had in mind.
As if often the case when we think we have a better idea of what needs to be done than God does, the plan changes.
As is often the case when we want to be in control and we think we know better than God, the plan changes.
The plan changes because our sight is so limited. We only see what is right in front of us. We only see what we want to see. We only see what fits our values, our ideas of what needs to be done and we are unable to widen our vision to something far greater and far bigger than what we can see.
David is only thinking of the immediate need, a house for God. God is thinking more long term. God has a bigger idea, a better idea.
Thus says the Lord, are you the one to build me a house to live in? 6 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.
God is not concerned about a house to live in. God’s plans are much bigger. They are longer, stretching forth into a future David can’t even begin to imagine. This is where God flips the script, and this is what God says to David.
Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever.
God makes this promise to David. His throne would be established forever. His line would never end. God keeps this promise even though David’s line of descendants ends in 587/586 BC. God keeps this promise through the exile. God keeps this promise as the people of Israel are allowed to return to their land from their captivity in Babylon.
And then, in the first century, the angel Gabriel visits a young woman by the name of Mary and tells her she will conceive a son by the power of the Holy Spirit and name him Jesus. The angel says this about him.
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 ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Luke 1:32-33
A promise made. Centuries later, a promise kept. God keeps promises.
And the central promise of the church, the very heart and center of who we are as a community of believers, the core message of the church, is that God so loved the world that he sent his only son so that whoever believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life
The fact that we cannot safety be together in God’s house that we built on the corner of Robert and Emerson, does not mean the promise is no longer with us?
The fact of our struggles, what we are going through this very moment in our lives, community and country, struggles that create fear and anxiety, does not mean the promise is no longer with us.
The fact that we have a Reformation Sunday is a testament not only to the witness of Martin Luther 503 years ago but more importantly to the message he pointed the church back to after the church had lost its way – our salvation comes through the promise of Jesus the Christ, descended from David, sent to save sinners, who brings sight to the blind, comfort to the afflicted and hope to those who are lost.
God keeps promises. Your today, tomorrow and everyday depends on Him.
Descended of David.
Born of Mary.
Died on the cross.
Raised to new life.
You belong to him. Be not afraid. His name is Emmanuel. Which means God is with us.
That is a promise and a promise always kept.
It is real. It is for you
Thanks be to God. Amen