2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16
“Our Father who art in Heaven, thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.” So begins the Lord’s Prayer with these words, but what do they mean?
In the late 19th century, Liberal theology envisioned these words to mean we are to prepare our earthly home so that it would be a place for the Lord to dwell – in essence making the world ready for Christ to return, as if the world was really ready for His first appearance. In our times certain sects who follow “rapture ideology” look to a similar idea – in essence “forcing” (my words not theirs) Jesus to return by making prophecy, as they understand it, happen. This is usually centered around rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem, leading to a sort of “Christian Zionism,” an “ism” that many Jews find disturbing and self-serving.
But what does it really mean to prepare a place for the Lord to dwell? For David it meant preparing an appropriate and holy place for the Ark of the Covenant to reside, thought this task was to fall upon his son Solomon. We see this reflected in the placement of tabernacles in some churches to house the consecrated body and blood of Christ – rather than sticking it in a cupboard somewhere, which is tantamount to leaving the Ark in a tent.
Making heaven on Earth, restoring the Temple, building a resting place for the Ark, tabernacles in churches: while all might have their merits, they all miss the point to some degree. Indeed, God’s best and most precious dwelling place on Earth is in our hearts and it is in our hearts where God can truly be with us and thus be most efficacious. No better manifestation of God can be found that Jesus Christ.
Advent is drawing to a close, but before we leave this more important season of the church year it is important that we reflect on what John the Baptist called us to – preparing the way for the Lord, and on what Mary evidenced in her joy at being blessed to carry the Christ child.
Both examples are calls to not only develop a deeper relationship with God in Christ Jesus but also to find joy in it; not seeing pray or worship as a burden or obligation but as our greatest privilege and delight – as a calling. This relationship is not something to be confined to an hour on Sunday that must be completed in order to get to coffee and cake.
Soon we will enter the Christmas season and celebrate the manifestation of God’s Word in our world. If we see Christmas as the epitome of the God/human relationship we should strive, as Charles Dickens said in the words of his reformed Scrooge, to honor Christmas in our hearts and try to keep it all the year. This is culmination of the Advent message of the return of the King and God dwelling with us.
Let us strive to continuously prepare a place in our heart for the Lord to dwell and do so joyfully.
Heavenly Father, come into our hearts by the manifestation of your Son Jesus Christ. Lord Jesus dwell within us teaching us to love and be loved. Holy Spirit strength us and encourage us to walk in close relationship with God and with one another. AMEN.