Now when the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.” Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.”
But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the Lord of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. When he commits iniquity, I will punish him with a rod such as mortals use, with blows inflicted by human beings. But I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever. In accordance with all these words and with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David.
Here in the continental United States, today is one of the shortest day of the year, and therefore the darkest day of the year…
On this short day, I am reminded that in ancient Europe, the people used to build huge bonfires on the darkest day of the year, as a way of calling the light back into the world…and it work, the days did indeed seem to grow longer after this day of celebrations and fires!
When Christianity came into this area, instead of doing away with this “Pagan” festival, they took it over, and made it a part of their Christmas celebration…and it fit, as Christmas is also when we celebrate the when the light of God’s love came into a darkened world…in the birth of a tiny baby.
Today many churches still carry on this tradition of calling light out of the darkness on Christmas Eve: At our church we dim the lights, and then the pastor will light a candle from the Christ candle near the Baptismal font, then he will share his light with the choir and with members of the congregation, who then share their light with each other, and as they do, the light moves from the front to the back of the church and all the way up to the balcony as we sing “Silent Night”, and before we are finished, the whole sanctuary is bright with the flames of hundreds of candles…light which has banished the darkness of the cold winter night!
In a way, this is what today’s reading is calling up us to do as parents: to make faith a part of lives, and of our homes; to make our homes places of love, where God dwells with us, and where our children can learn about the power of God’s love in our lives.
When we teach our children about our faith and about the power of God’s love. we are lighting a spark in their lives…even if it that spark simmers for a while before it catches and becomes a flame…in time it will become a light in their lives, helping them to find their own path to a faith that works for them…and once that happens, maybe they too will invite the love of God into their homes, and in doing so spark the flame of faith in their own children and all those around them…
And where that spark is lit, the light can spread…just like in my church, and so many others on Christmas Eve.
This is the light that spreads from the love of God for us, a love that was so strong that God chose to be born among us, not as a King, but as a poor baby in a stable, so that God could know all the pains, challenges and joys of living not just as one with us, but as one of us!
Jesus carried that light with him as he spread the good news of God’s love with a needy world, calling for reconciliation and love among all of God’s children…and today, we carry the fire of Christ with us, and pass it on through our children, for them to share with others…and it is this message of love that prepares a place for God to dwell with us in our world, and when that happens there will be no more darkness.
Let us Pray
God, thank you for dwelling with us. Help us to prepare your way by sharing the spark of faith with our children and all those around us; and let us be patient if that spark may take some time to catch hold. Let us hold steadfast to our faith that your love will never leave us or our children, and always triumphs…and that your light will spread to all dark corners of our world and fill them with your grace.