Scripture: 2 Samuel 7:1-17
Key verse: (6) “I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt.”
Reflection: Each Christmas when we sing “Away in a Manger” what images come to mind with the words, “Away in a manger no crib for his bed, the little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head”? Do you imagine serene nativity scenes, Christmas pageants with our children, or perhaps you are a new parent thinking no way was this baby sweet and silent sleeping in hay! The image of Jesus in a manger is one quite familiar to us, it would be strange if the inn keeper had space in the inn and Jesus was born in a house. What would we do with the sheep and the lowing cattle and all of the other stable animals that we love so much?
And while we love the manger scene, maybe our comfort with Jesus being born outside of a house, among the animals, is deeper than appreciation for live nativities and little figurines. From our scripture reading today we see that it is part of God’s character from the very beginning to not want to be confined within the walls of a single place. In 2 Samuel King David had just established his rule and built for himself a great house. The kingdom was getting settled after a rough reign from the first king Saul. But with David in the seat of power there was growth and stability within the kingdom. And yet the ark of the covenant, the place where it was believed that God resided, still remained in a tent. In his love for God, David desired to build God a house as well, but God said, “I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt.” God didn’t want a house, God liked the tent which was mobile, agile, easily moved.
And so when God became flesh and dwelt among us in Jesus, it would only make sense that there was no room in the inn, that God would be born outside of restraining and confining walls, the manger opened God up to the whole world. As we draw closer to Christmas with pageants, concerts, decorations, and parties, may we remember that no walls ever confined God and the same is true today. Take a moment today and peer out your window, where do you see God on the move? If you haven’t stepped out of the church walls in a while, I encourage you to engage with one of our mission partners to better see how God is on the move. Give thanks that the God who created the world and all that is in it moves among us and with us wherever we are.
Prayer: Loving God, in the anticipation of Advent may we recognize your presence with us each and every day. Open our hearts to your presence which is bigger than any building, home, or church. Through Christ we pray. Amen.
Author: John Magnuson
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].