“Now when the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, 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.” (2 Samuel 7:1-3)
Much like a wife/mother/domestic engineer, King David was resting after a great deal of accomplishments. He was looking around to see all that he had down and acquired. Much like also, I suspect, a thorough shopper of Christmas presents. But suddenly it occurred to him that while he had secured a fine castle, servants etc, but physical symbol of the presence of God was still outside, protected from the elements by only a tent. And that did not feel right. Just as if you suddenly realized that you had forgotten to buy the most important present of all! Or the center piece of all of you decorating was still packed up. What you thought was completed was still woefully left undone! “I can fix that”, you think.
“But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: 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 7:4-7)
It is not often that one hears during Advent and Christmas discussion about the meager surrounding Christ was born in. Even for those times, a stable was a pretty lowdown place to stay, especially for a baby. And moreover, for a baby who would grow to be Christ. I think that is why I do not like seeing nativity sets outside. It reminds me too acutely of what the reality was for Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus. Yes, I think of Mary too, giving birth in a stable. Having been “pampered” by hospital stays, I just can’t imagine it! Yet the bible tells us that is the way it was.
And if our God had planned Jesus’ birth in the “God’s Time” way the God does, it must have been the plan. Mary could have given birth while still at her home with Joseph or in her mother’s home. But God’s timing . . . So who I am to stay what the proper setting is for a nativity set. Or moreover, who is anyone to say what the proper setting or place for God is, or who is worthy of God’s favor?
“Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the Lord of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house.” (2 Samuel 7:8-11)
And that present that you forgot to buy, or that decoration that you forgot to put up is not going to change the essential meaning for Christmas. Yes, getting the detail just right is important, and I think Jesus being born in a stable to a first time mother was the detail that God wanted. So if your Christmas plans are not perfect, that is just about right. Because as wonderful as the presents, the food, the decorations, and everything else is, that is not the point of Christmas celebrations. It is that God had a plan for God’s people, and the plan was for baby Jesus. It was the best plan of all, that would in a unique way take care of all the world’s and all of humanity’s most important needs.
We do not, beloved reader, have a kingdom or a throne. We do have a soul and spirit though. And humanity’s spirit is forever before God, and will endure even beyond our body’s death. For that is God and Jesus Christ’s plan. Selah!