Friday, July 17, 2009

B, Pentecost 7 Proper 11 - 2 Samuel 7:10a, 11b-13, 16; Mark 6:31 "Peace in the Shed"

Because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." (Mark 6:31)
Come with me to a quiet place and get some rest!
When you've had enough and you need some time out, you just need to step out, lest you do your block and completely lose it. So let's go to a quiet place and get some rest! It's time to go to the shed.
This is the place where boys can be boys, men can be men, and the Aussie bloke can be the Aussie bloke. Where primeval man can do and be what he likes with no recompense from the boss who runs the show inside. These mostly dirty or dusty dwellings are the man caves where a basic bloke with his most basic of instincts can at least pretend to be the master of his domain. A place to be; a place to rest; a place of peace.
Then again the shed is not everyone's cup of tea either! I'd imagine there are plenty of people who don't find this environment very inviting. Some women love the shed as much as the man, but then again there are many who don't.
And I know it's hard to believe, but there are blokes out there who don't like the solidarity of shed life either. I guess it's where one's interests lie! However, regardless of whether you like the shed or not, everyone has a place of rest and a place of peace.
Like the shed though, these places are not always peaceful and a place of rest. Sometimes the peacefulness is pierced with pain and the rest is lost in testing. Where a bloke can celebrate and practise his most basic of instincts can be where he can also inflict injury on himself. In the shed lurk all types of danger which threatens to destroy or harm one's humanity.
But there's a place that's better than the shed, or any other location we might seek for earthly enlightenment. It's the one true place of peace and rest; it's in God's rest, where we receive the peace that passes all human understanding. And in this peace we are refreshed so we can go back into the busyness of our lives bearing the peace of God before others.
In Old Testament times, David wrestled with the fact that having moved into Jerusalem making it the City of David, and building for himself a palace in which to live, God still resided in a tent, where the Ark of the Covenant was kept. And so he enquires of God through the prophet Nathan, and the word of the Lord came to him, saying…
I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. "The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you: When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever." (2 Samuel 7:10a,11b-13, 16)
So God gave Israel a home, a place of rest and peace. And David's house was established and sustained by God himself. But God promises to David that it is not David himself who was to build a temple for God, rather God would raise up a son to build a holy resting place for the King of Heaven and Earth, in Jerusalem.
In doing this God was reinforcing that he would sustain the house of David; not his palace, but rather a family line of kingship over God's people. This son was Solomon. But after Solomon's reign and death, the kingdom of Israel split into the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. Then after continual defiance by most of the kings of the Israelites and the Judeans, the kingdoms were sacked by their enemies.
So what became of God's promise to sustain the house of David? After all the Babylonians marched into Jerusalem and set fire to every important building – including the temple of the Lord, the king's palace, and the homes of the people! (2 Kings 25:9) Had God failed in his promise in which he stated, "Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever"?
Two things need to be noted. Firstly, God promises that David's house and kingdom will endure before me. Yet the Israelites and the Judeans and their kings had long turned their backs on God and so they like King Saul dissected themselves from the presence of the Lord.
But more importantly, the line of David became hidden from humanity and is revealed in Jesus Christ, the Son of David. In him, his house, kingdom, and throne was established forever when Jesus was enthroned on the cross, and lifted up from the grave to life eternal in victory over sin and death.
We hear from Ephesians chapter two: But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace. (Eph 2:13-14a)
So the place of peace and rest was restored by God's own Son, Jesus Christ. The promise made to David and continued in Solomon's reign as king, once again because of Christ allowed people a place of peace in which to rest. But the place is now different. It's not necessarily a building like the temple in Jerusalem where one might go to Sabbath in God to receive the blessings of his grace. Christ now functions as the temple. He is the gate, the filter, the curtain, through whom we pass into the peaceful presence of God, saved from God's wrath we're due because of our sinful natures.
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22)
But now there's a strange irony since Christ has abolished the necessity of the Old Testament temple in Jerusalem. The temple is now wherever people are gathered together by the Holy Spirit around the Word of God to receive the benefits God promises in it.
Then the temple is also the gathering of people who believe and look to Jesus Christ, the Son of David. These are those hidden within the denominations on earth, and those already hidden in the timeless realm of eternity. But although they and we are hidden, we all stand in the face of God enduring before him – that is, we stand before him revealed in his Written Word here on earth, and they stand before him face to face with the Word made flesh in heaven.
The third strand of reality to this irony is we're temples of Christ. We find peace and rest because Christ temples in us. We are filled with grace and truth, since we've been baptised into the kingdom of heaven, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. (John 1:14)
God has chosen you as his shed, despite your person being like a man cave, a cavity of the dirt, dust, and danger of sin. God sends the Holy Spirit to bring us together in fellowship so Jesus Christ might continue to build us into his Father's kingdom. So we might demonstrate our love towards him, giving glory to him and proclaiming Christ and the cross to the ends of the earth.
When you need to "be", when you need "rest", and when you need "peace", Jesus says to you, "Come with me to a quiet place and get some rest." But amazingly as we rest in him, he rests in us and gives us eternal peace. Amen.