2Sm 7:1-5,8b-12,14a,16; Ps 89:2,3,4,5,27,29; Lk 1:67-79
The Prophet John the Baptist would announce to all “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” This is the freedom for which we were born. This is the good news of tomorrow’s celebration. We are free to worship God without fear. We are free to be holy and righteous in his sight all our days. Among those who spend time and money preparing and rejoicing with family and friends tomorrow, how many will be singing of the goodness of the LORD, of the One who took on sin and evil and their consequences sickness and death? He took on our human condition; he was like us in all things but sin, so that we could take on his divinity. Sin is no fun. Evil is nothing to play with. We cannot overcome this brokenness by ourselves. We need his favor and faithfulness. Without his kindness there is only sadness and gloom. The LORD has made a covenant with his chosen servant, David. This king of Israel was a man after God’s own heart and the LORD filled his heart the with joy of a promised descendant who would do what King David could not do, bring peace to all the world. This Son of David would say of the LORD, “You are my father, my God, the rock, my savior.” In Christ Jesus, the true and faithful Son of David, we can cry out, “Abba, Father.” Nathan the Prophet speaks the word of the LORD to King David who has just been told that he cannot build a temple, “…your Kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall stand firm forever.” The priest Zechariah speaks a word of prophecy after his tongue has been loosed; he speaks of the mystery of the LORD’s faithfulness in the coming of a mighty Savior, born of the house of his servant David. A Savior, his son John will announce and point out. Our Advent Journey began on Jordan’s bank with the preaching of Saint John the Baptist, and it ends here with the prophecy and excitement surrounding his birth. From the birth of the lamp to the birth of the Light, from the birth of the prophet to the birth of the Messiah, from the birth of the voice to the birth of the Word, quickly we move from glory to Glory.
“But that night the LORD spoke to Nathan and said: Go, tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD: Should you build me a house to dwell in?’” Nathan and all of Israel would have expected that the King’s desire to build the LORD a house to dwell in to be inspired. After all, the LORD had given King David sign after sign of divine favor to his people and their king. The King of Kings had given his favored one victory over all his enemies and had given him peace on all his boarders. After all the struggle to establish the sovereignty of Israel and King David had ended, it seemed like a good time to build a temple for the LORD who had brought the King and his people to such dignity and world respect. However, this God remains mysterious, and He is beyond all our expectations and plans. Indeed, King David and all of us must hear and understand. It is the LORD who gives us rest from all our enemies, and He gives us an eternal dwelling place. Salvation, rescue, redemption, eternal life is our gift; we do not deserve it because of our victories over our enemies. Indeed the true enemies of Israel and each one of us are the spiritual enemies: pride, sloth, envy, anger, greed, lust and gluttony. It is this deadly line-up that continues to move us toward war and any conflict—still; we need rest from all our enemies. We still need the gift of peace, that peace which surpasses all understanding, that peace which we cannot give ourselves.
If we are to live in the tender compassion of our God, if the dawn from on high should break upon us, if Light from Light is to shine upon those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, then someone must guide our feet into the way of peace. This is the humble and honest admission of Christianity. We need a Savior; we cannot save ourselves. It is this kind of repentance that Saint John preached and continues to preach throughout the history of the Church. We, like The Baptist, are the friends of the Bridegroom, and we must diminish while he increases. This self-understanding will keep alive the true meaning of Our Savior and his Nativity. Indeed, the promise made to Abraham and to us his children is being fulfilled even as we celebrate. We are free from the hands of our enemies; we are free to worship him without fear; we are holy and righteous in his sight all the days of our life. Though sin may abound, even in the secret corners of our lives, grace all the more abounds. This we have all received grace upon grace. This is the reason why tomorrow is not just another day. Indeed, we are born again in grace and glory to taste and see the goodness of the Lord. Indeed, we are born in his Birth from death to life. Indeed, we are free, more free than we have ever been, and we expect to be even more free from the true enemies of our soul next year on this day! This is the true joy of Christmas. A joy we recall each day in Morning Prayer: “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, he has come to his people and set them free!”