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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Fourth Sunday of Advent

"The LORD is with you." (2 Sam 7:3)

The 7th Chapter of II Samuel has always moved my heart.  David's relationship with God, even when he speaks to God through Nathan the Prophet, is so natural, so honest and open that it offers us a model for our own prayer.

David, caught up with his duties as King, suddenly realizes that in his hurry to defend and build up the faith of his people, he has forgotten to build a permanent and beautiful place for the Ark of the Covenant.  Even though Nathan assures him that he has nothing to worry about, David knows that he has forgotten something very important and God knows it, too. Nathan, in a dream that same night, is reminded that God has always been a companion to the Jewish people who were nomads for so long. God, like the people themselves, lived in a tent, a dwelling easily dismantled and moved to a new place when their goats and sheep needed new grazing land.  And God was happy to move, to be with his people, to assure them that the covenant he made with them would endure forever no matter where they wandered. Though shocking to Nathan, God insists that he does not need a lavish and permanent dwelling place, but is content to be among his people wherever they are.

In today's gospel, when the angel assures Mary that God is with her, we are reminded of God's caution to Nathan. Not only does Mary not have to build a dwelling place for God, she will be the new temple, the new tent of God as she carries the Savior in her womb for nine months in preparation for God's entry in the flesh into human history.  Alarmed and troubled at first, Mary hears God's assurance to her that the child to be born of her is a gift of the Holy Spirit and she has nothing to fear.  Her "yes" to being the tabernacle of God fills her and us with joy. God who makes all things possible is doing something new and wonderful in her and for us.  Although she could never have imagined the extent of God's promise, as the tent of God Mary would usher in a new covenant in which we as the body of Christ will give birth to the Lord each day by our love for one another and our commitment to building a just world. While we might build beautiful churches all over the world,  they are only the secondary homes of God.  God lives within and among us as God's people and once again God is happy to be with us in the new tabernacle of our own bodies and communities of faith.

Today, pray to be a worthy tent for God.

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