Every week we offer a prayerful reflection from a member of the Unbound community. Throughout the Advent/Christmas season, we offer a special series of reflections on the upcoming Sunday readings. This reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Advent is from Senior Writer Larry Livingston.
The first reading for the Fourth Sunday of Advent finds King David troubled by the notion that, while he lives in a palace, the Ark of the Covenant (representing the presence of God) is housed in a tent. The king wants to build what he considers a more suitable dwelling place for the Ark, but God, speaking through the prophet Nathan, puts a halt to his plans.
David is reminded that all throughout his life God’s glory had been manifested most profoundly through David himself, not through any structure built by human hands. It was God who had taken the boy from the pastures and made him king. It was God who guided David’s armies and brought him victory after victory. And it was God who would make of David a great nation and, from his descendants, raise up a mighty savior for the people.
It would, no doubt, have surprised David to learn that the mighty savior promised by God would, centuries later, be born in the humblest of circumstances and raised in a poor family. Never would he reside in a palace, nor would he command great armies. He would be rejected by his own and, in the prime of life, suffer a criminal’s death.
Yet, today we recognize Jesus as not only Son of David but also Son of God. We acknowledge him as the ultimate testament to a central truth about God’s relationship with humanity; the greatest manifestations of God’s glory are not to be found in bricks and mortar but in flesh and blood.
Unbound also testifies to that truth. Daily we are blessed to witness the presence of God shining forth in people of various backgrounds and means. Daily we encounter Christ alive and active in lean-to shacks and high-rise apartments, mud huts and suburban homes. Daily we recognize his face in the faces of sponsored persons, their families and those committed to walking with them into better lives.
Though his intentions were good, King David had the mistaken notion that God requires the trappings of human splendor. It’s an idea shared by many, even today. But God taught the king that splendor isn’t found only in what people do or in the things they build. It’s found, first and foremost, in who they are.
We are the dwelling place of God.
Loving God, as we reflect on the story of the baby in the manger who was paid homage by shepherd and king alike, may we resolve to pay deeper homage to the Christ within our sisters and brothers. May reverence guide our hearts and kindness direct our actions, that you may be recognized in full splendor within the human race. We ask this in your most holy name. Amen.