The Fourth Sunday of Advent
God our redeemer, who prepared the Blessed Virgin Mary to be the mother of your Son: grant that, as she looked for his coming as our saviour, so we may be ready to greet him when he comes again as our judge; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen
‘The Lord declares to you David, that the Lord will make you a house. Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever…your throne shall be established for ever.’
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The television is flooded with programmes about houses, houses that people want to become their ‘homes’. There’s ‘Escape to the Country’, ‘A Place in the Sun’, Grand Designs… and the list goes on…. But one programme that is particularly popular is called ‘Building the Dream’, which is on nearly every afternoon on channel 4.
The show is centred on building homes that suit the occupants. And if we think about it, our homes do reflect the type of people we are, our interests and hobbies, our families and our preferences. We love, naturally, to make our houses in our image; they become reflections of who we are as people.
It may be colour schemes or furniture, or carpets or design, whatever it might be – our homes reflect our likes and our lives. The programme, helps the occupants to literally build their dreams of a loft conversion, or an en suite or a re-style all within a small budget. The dreams in the end, become a reality. Houses become homes, reflecting their owners.
In our readings today, we hear of dreams and we hear of homes. There are in fact three of each in the scriptures today: three dreams and three homes. The first and second are found in our Old Testament reading from the book of Samuel. Here, King David is revelling in his hard-won palace. After a series of battles and being constantly on the move, he finally has a place of rest, it was a ‘house of cedar’ an opulent building to display is power and royal status.
Contrast this, to the second home, which David himself refers to; not a palace, not even a house with a roof, but a simple tent.
The tent was the house of God, for in it contained the Ark of the Covenant. This was the holiest place of all – because the ark contained the Ten Commandments, which God had written himself on tablets of stone. It contained the rod, the staff of Aaron, the first high priest. It contained fragments of manna, that precious and life giving bread from heaven by which God had fed his people. It was literally God’s dwelling place on earth.
Two houses: the palace of the King, and the tent of the Ark.
What about the dreams? The first was David’s dream, he wanted to build a proper house for the Ark, he says: ‘see now I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent’.
And yet, the prophet Nathan, after initially agreeing with David’s desire, is told in the second dream, that the King will not build a house for the Ark. Perhaps it is because it will be made according to David’s ideas, it will reflect his preferences, his vision and not God’s.
In that second dream, when Nathan hears the word of the Lord, we see the foundation of God’s own dream, the third dream, emerge, and the promise, made by God himself to David that he himself, will build a house, which ‘shall be made sure forever’.
That third dream becomes a reality today. God’s dream of an everlasting throne and Kingdom, God’s dream of a new house is built; built not in precious cedar, built not with gold or silver, not surrounded by opulence and wealth, but built rather in lowliness, and fragility, and according to his design. The house of God, his Ark, his dwelling place, is built in the womb of Mary. Mary, the one chosen to bear God himself is the new Ark of God’s presence. She is the new Ark of the new covenant. Mary’s ‘yes’ to God’s will, her ‘let it be to me according to your word’ allows us to be reconciled to God. For the child of the Most High is the descendant of David, it is he who will reign for ever as our God. Remember those items in the old Ark; the tablets of the law, the rod of Aaron and the manna from heaven. In Mary’s womb, we see the same items, we see them in the child in her womb, in Jesus himself: he is the the fulfilment of the law, the law of love.
He is the new high priest – he is born to save us, he offers the sacrifice of himself on Calvary’s cross. And as a sign of that law of love, as a sign of that sacrifice, he gives us the bread of heaven, his own body and blood. God, through Mary, has formed a new tent for his presence: he has ‘pitched his tent among us.’
God built his dream in Mary. Her ‘yes’ makes the dream a reality. What is his dream for your lives? His dream, is that we too would have open hearts and minds, the dream which he longs to make a reality by building his home in us, so that we may be dwelling place of God. He longs to send ‘the Holy Spirit, the power of the Most High’ upon us. That is his dream for you. Why? Quite simply, so the needy world, will hear the Good News, proclaimed, by us, so that all people in every generation, may know his ‘mercy’, in the words of the Magnificat.
The question is, will we respond as Mary did, or will want things in our own image, in our style? The first step to being a house for the Lord, is to acknowledge our need of a saviour, he has saved us, we do not save ourselves. Let us acknowledge our lowliness, and then, and only then, if we say yes to his call, to his dream for our lives, then he will be build that dream he will make us houses of his presence, he will reveal his image in us, and people will, by our bearing of that presence, say ‘holy is his name’.
Let God build his dream in you. Amen.
Heavenly Father, who chose the Blessed Virgin Mary be the mother of the promised saviour: Fill us your servants with your grace, that in all things we may embrace your holy will and with her rejoice in your salvation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.