Beth and I have owned three houses over our marriage. Our first was in Nebraska and we had it for about 6 years. Our second was in Springfield when we came to Oregon and is where our daughters grew up. There were many memories made over 15 years in that place. The third, where we live now in Eugene, we bought a little over 8 years ago to get closer to our church and quit driving 20-30 minutes each way every day to work and school. The memories there are starting to add up now too.
All our houses have been “used,” built by others, although the second was only a couple years old when we bought it. We’ve never had the fun and excitement of planning and building a house “to order,” but it’s a pleasant day dream.
This Sunday’s sermon text from II Samuel 7:1-16 turns on a little divine play on words around who is going to build a house for whom. This lectionary text was chosen to key off the Gospel lesson from Luke 1:26-38, where the angel Gabriel promises Mary that her Son will be given “the throne of his father David.” So this Old Testament reading takes us back to place where David is promised an everlasting kingdom, a dynasty that will last forever.
The divine joke happens because in the first part of the text, verse 2, David wants to build a “house,” a permanent place for the Ark of the Covenant, which is still sitting in a tent, the Tabernacle. God surprises everyone, even Nathan the prophet, by announcing that He doesn’t want a house from David. In fact, God is going to build David a “house,” meaning that dynasty of which Mary’s Son became the culmination.
Which all might make us reflect a little on the importance my generation puts on home ownership and all that goes with it. Perhaps we ought to have thought a bit more about preparing ourselves to live in the eternal house that God offers us through Jesus Christ. In Him is where we have a truly permanent place to live.