House
2 Samuel 7:1-14

We’ve heard a bit about King David in the last few weeks.  Today we find him settled in his new house, taking a rest from all of the enemies around him.  He has a nice house for himself and he realises that the ark of God is still in a tent, so he decides that he should build a house for God too.

As you may have noticed, God had other ideas.  He’d been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle, he didn’t want a house.  Instead he told David that he would make a house for him.  Now this might seem a bit confusing because David is already living in a house, but when you look at the meaning of the word ‘house’ it becomes a little clearer.

In many cultures today and particularly at the time of King David the term meant those who belong within and under the headship of a particular householder, in this case King David.  It would include all of the relatives and servants and their families too.

Last weekend I was at my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary in Adelaide.  We had one of those households happening.  My parents booked a lodge at a scout camp in the Adelaide hills that had a large common area and bunks to sleep about forty people.  For a few nights we had all of the direct descendents and spouses and partners (except one) all sleeping under the one roof.  There were four generations sleeping and eating and relaxing together in the one place.  On Sunday morning we even held a service with Holy Communion which included the Baptism of one of my great nephews.

Someone mentioned that my Father never expected to give birth to a whole congregation, but for all intents and purposes on Sunday morning last week, that’s exactly what we were.  The whole household had gathered together and were worshipping as one.

That’s kind of what God was talking about when he told David through the prophet Nathan that he would raise up offspring after him who will establish his Kingdom.  That offspring as we know was Jesus.  He was from the house of David and the house he built wasn’t a house of cedar, it is a house of people, the church.

As we heard in the second reading, we are no longer strangers and aliens, but we are citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone.  Through him the church is built into the dwelling place of God.

So, David wanted to build a house for God to live in out of physical materials, but God wanted to build a spiritual house, made up of the people of God. 

God had been with the people of Israel throughout their journey, in the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire, in the tabernacle and the tent, yet God is not one to be fenced in, held by human ideas and perceptions.  God finds us, we don’t find him.  How can he go out and find us if we try lock him up in a building.

A couple of weeks ago we celebrated the 30th anniversary of our church building at Lilydale, it was a great event, it’s a great place to worship, but God isn’t just there in that building is he?  He is also in every other place of worship around the world, whether specifically built and consecrated for that purpose or not.  But God still isn’t limited by buildings, as Jesus said, “where two or three are gathered together in my name there I am with them.”  Surely if we are congregating together anywhere in God’s name he is there with us, after all that’s what he told us!

I’m from the line of thinking that we can see evidence of God at work in the environment as well.  As you know I love to spend time in the bush, sitting and listening and watching, appreciating what God has created.  I think he is there with me then too.

God doesn’t want to be fenced in between the walls we create; he wanted to be with us, to the very end of the age, wherever we are.  He does want us to come to worship though, to be a part of his body, the church, to receive his body and blood in the sacrament, to hear forgiveness proclaimed to us.  He made us a part of his household/ his family for a purpose, because he wants to love us, to nurture us and to be with us.

Last Sunday in our little service, Scott became a member or the wider family, the Christian church; he was already a part of the Stringer family.  Here at Croydon Tristan was baptised and became a part of that same family, that same household, the body of Christ.  As part of the rite of Baptism the parents and sponsors and even the gathered congregations promised to bring these new members of the body of Christ to the services in God’s house.

When we do come to the services in God’s house we are responding a bit like the disciples did when Jesus called on them to come away to a deserted place and I will give you rest.  It is a time of refreshment and rejuvenation ready to face the busyness of the world around us.  These walls that God has built for us provide a sanctuary away from the rest of the world, for us to be nourished and nurtured, to receive the body and blood of Christ and be healed, maybe not physically healed but certainly spiritually. 

In this place we are prepared to go back out into our everyday lives, the vocations and stations that God has given us, nourished by him and ready to serve him.

May the Lord bless you in this place and continue to be with you as he has promised, to the very end of the age, and may you respond to his call to come away with him for a while so that he can give you rest.

Amen.