Week 4 Sunday December 18 – Saturday December 24
2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16
In this passage, a conversation between God and David ensues. David is decided on building YHWH a temple, a place where God can dwell and the people can worship. YHWH is quick to turn this proposal on its head, though. YHWH says, it is I who will build for you a house, a long lineage of sons and daughters who will follow in my teachings. This passage is important for Advent in its display of God’s commitment to God’s people. There are a number of covenants made throughout the Hebrew Bible; covenants with Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David. In the Christian tradition, we understand Jesus as being another covenant of God with God’s people, a revealing of God’s grace and redemption in our lives and our world. In this season of Advent, how does this passage inform your understanding of God’s promise to our world? If we follow the lineage all the way back to the time of Noah, what does this say about the length of God’s commitment to our world?
This passage is one of the most famous in the New Testament. Often referred to as the Magnificat, this song of Mary is a lesson in the nature of God and God’s work in our world. An angel visits Mary and tells her that she will bear the Son of God and he will rule over the house of David. She rushes off to visit Elizabeth her cousin, who was pregnant with John the Baptist. Mary responds by giving praise to God for selecting her as the mother of Jesus. In the passage, Mary speaks of the nature of God, and God’s favor placed on those that fear God, those that humble themselves in front of God, those who are not proud, the hungry, and the people of Israel. Mary is not just thanking God, but reminding the reader of God’s call for justice in the world, that it is not the rich and the proud who will receive blessings, but those who follow in the line of God. When we think about the birth of Jesus, to a woman with so little power, how does this transform your view of God’s presence in the world? In what new ways do you see God’s work when God is often portrayed as a mighty ruler?
We revisit the story of God’s covenant with David in the psalm for this week. The psalmist is focused on making it known to the world that God is faithful and recalls David’s story as evidence. Often times, this psalm is used in Christian teaching as a reference to the coming of Jesus. If we expand this to a wider historical view, we can see that this psalm is making speaking of the long-standing covenant of God with God’s people, stretching from David through Jesus to today. In what ways do we make it known to the world that God is faithful to us? How do we sing of God’s great love in this season of Advent?
In the conclusion of his letter to the church in Rome, Paul gives blessings to God for God’s faithfulness and steadfast love. The church in Rome during this time was in major conflict, mainly about the relationships between Jews and Gentiles and their respective experiences with the grace of God. Paul is reassuring the people in his letter, telling them that it is God who establishes the gospel in all our hearts, and that the faith of those who follow Christ is available to all. In this season of waiting, how are you prepared to allow God to work in grace and love in your life? Often times, we may assume that our relationship with God is a one-way street, with us always seeking God. How is this counter-productive? How can we instead wait for God to move in our lives and our world?