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Sermon for 21 December 2014


2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16 , Luke 1:26-38

‘Daddy, where does God live?” It’s one of those great questions that children of a certain age ask. The kind of question that I get asked to help with by parents who approach me in the playground - ‘little Johnny has been asking some tricky questions recently - I told him to ask you. So Johnny, here’s the vicar - what did you want to ask him.’

And it’s one of the great questions that the bible poses as well. ‘Where does God live?’

In the Old Testament we read of the emergence of the tribe of Israel. A ragtag bunch of slaves who hail from a wandering Middle Eastern tribe have become part of Egypt’s mass building program and escape. In their ears as they flee across the Red Sea are the promises made to their founding father, Abraham, that they will become a nation - and a great one at that.

And this newly liberated tribe have an emerging and developing story that they are telling about God. Everyone has gods, of course - and they all need to be satisfied in one way or another, but this group are telling a story that sounds very different. Not many gods, but One God, they say. Not a violent, malevolent God who needs to be pacified, but a God of peace and justice. Not a God who sides with the rich and powerful, but one who demands fair treatment for the poor.

Now, fast forward many generations to the reading from 2 Samuel. The promise made to Abraham has been fulfilled and the tribe of Jacob has become a proper nation. They have won many battles, claimed a land as their own, built cities and now they have a King; a great king. His name is David, and under him, Israel is emerging as a significant power in the Middle Eastern landscape. 

And today we meet David, at the end of long campaigns to bring peace, and he is asking the same question as little Johnny - ‘Where does God live?’ Here I am, David is saying, living in a beautiful Palace, while the God who brought us here lives outdoors in a tent. That doesn’t seem right. And he offers to build God a house worthy of his power. 

But God seems rather ambivalent about David’s offer. ‘I’ve never needed a house before’ he says, ‘I’ve always been happy with a tent and a tabernacle’. 

And then something strange - ‘The Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house’. David’s offer of a house for God stays hanging in the air, instead, it’s God who is going to do the building. 

And of course David does go on to build a great house for the Lord. The Jerusalem Temple is wonderful and mighty, and fit for the Lord of the heavens and earth. And the Temple is a holy place, built around the holy of holies where God’s presence is believed to dwell. But God’s promise to build a house for David continues to hang in the air.  

And then, 900 hundred years later, Luke returns to the question; ‘where does God live’? Because Luke and the other new Christians have come to a startling conclusion; a world changing one. God has at last built the new house that he once promised. And it isn’t made of stone, nor of cedar wood. It is made of flesh and blood. 

God’s true home is in the beating heart of a small baby, who grew up to become a man, and who embodied, totally and entirely, the presence of God. ‘The word became flesh and lived amongst us’ St John’s gospel tells us. And the literal translation of that sentence? ‘The word pitched his tent amongst us’ God has a new home and he has come to live amongst us as one of us.

The answer to the great question has now been given - Where does God live? He lives in Jesus, who lives amongst us. And this Jesus is our home, our abiding place. The door to the home that God built is wide open, and we are welcome to come on in and make ourselves comfortable. 

This Christmas, come home to God’s home. To Jesus


Posted: 21-12-2014 at 06:56
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