In the Lectionary

Sunday, December 21, 2014: 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16; Luke 1:26-38

I love buildings, especially beautiful places of worship. I also think there’s power in a cinder-block square with a tin roof or the circle of a campfire, if they’re filled by songs and prayer. I used to serve a campus ministry that owned two houses. Both were in disrepair. We talked a lot, sometimes emotionally, about what to do. Borrowing the image of God’s tabernacling presence with wandering Hebrews, a new pastor made a good case for no buildings and for creating a ministry of roaming presence. Others spoke of the value of home, of creating an inviting physical space of ministry.

I’m taken back to that discussion by the resonance of God’s word to Nathan and Gabriel’s word to Mary. I think this holds a tension that’s at the heart of biblical faith. Nathan gives a word in response to David’s plan to build a house for God. Gabriel tells Mary that her womb will become a home for the one who will fulfill the divine word given to Nathan so long before.

Political intrigues aside, at face value David is trying to honor God as he and his people settle into a time of growing national identity. They’ve carried the marker of God among them in a tent while David has been built a house of cedar. It seems unseemly; he must construct a house for the Lord, too. This David tells Nathan. Nathan does not object.