Let us remember that in Christmas, God comes to do something for us and that something overshadows anything that we can ever do for God.
Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ.
The Magnificat, Mary’s song in response to the surprising visit of Gabriel, is my favorite Advent text. And my understanding of it is enriched in this season as I have looked anew at the Old Testament text appointed for Sunday upcoming – II Samuel 7. King David looks around himself and sees the beauty of the palace in which he is living and he says musing, “I live in luxurious surroundings while God lives in a moveable tent. I will build a temple for God.”
Have you ever wanted to do something really great for God? Then perhaps you find yourself in relation to David at this moment. The prophet Nathan quickly agrees, but later in the night, Nathan is awakened by God with probing questions and a commission. “Have I ever asked for a temple?” God asks. “No, I will create, I will create a dynasty for David. I took him from being a shepherd boy, a kid from nowhere and I have elevated him to rule over Israel.”
So Nathan carries this back to David. Eugene Peterson observes of this text that sometimes our desire to do something for God stands in the way of God’s desire to do something for us. This informs our whole understanding of Christmas, our sense of God’s coming to us, overwhelming us, loving us, giving us Jesus Christ.
While we do many things in this Holy Season, let us always be aware that Christmas is a gift, a complete gift to us, a surprising gift. Jesus, the Messiah will be of the house and lineage of David. He will be born in Bethlehem, the city of David, but his rule will be nothing like the rule of David. He will not live in a palace. He will not be surrounded by luxury. He will not have the sort of power that people expect and even hope for. Rather the power of the Messiah who comes to us will be in humility, will be in mercy, will be in grace.
Let us ponder this text and let us remember that in Christmas, God comes to do something for us and that something overshadows anything that we can ever do for God.
May Christ be with you as Christmas comes.