Sermon, Pentecost 7B, July 15, 2012.
St Petri, Series; After God’s Own Heart week 6,
14 Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, 15 while he and the entire house of Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets.
PRAY: Spirit of God, speak to our listening hearts that we may hear your voice in this Word, for your word is truth and life. Amen
What brings you joy?
The birth of a baby; the smell of a new car, the rush of wind on your motorbike, the smell of a rose in bloom, a sunny day in winter, a song of faith you know well, the gathering of God’s people in worship, the win of your footy team, the love of a trusted friend…….?
Joy is a strange commodity. So strong and full and yet so elusive – not something you can manufacture or control, but something that happens unexpectedly. Something that is experienced when you are not trying to control it. If you try to hold onto it and make it last, it just vanishes like sand through your fingers.
As David leads his people in a great procession with the long-lost Ark of the Covenant in tow, he dances with all his might in front of them all. He is full of joy.
Why? His joy is not really about the Ark of the Covenant. It is about what it represents – God’s gracious presence; God’s presence to hear, bless, love, empower and help David and his people in their life together.
So, to be a person after God’s own heart it is crucial to have joy – at least some of the time! Especially if we are to fulfil our mission to share the love and of Jesus with everyone.
That’s because joy is infectious. It is fun. It is a great inner strength in the darkest of days or the hardest of tasks. We can be suffering and yet we can be full of joy.
For David and God’s people, this day the Ark was brought into the new city of David was a celebration of the Lord’s presence still with them through all that had happened and all that was still to come.
After David had finally triumphed over Saul, there was time and space to attend to something other than warfare! Now was the time to attend to the worship life of the people.
The Ark, was first build at the Lord’s instruction by Moses in the desert journey. It was a constant, visible reminder that God had worked in their lives, that he did things for His people.
The Ark was not some deaf and mute statue like other nations worshipped, but the mercy seat of the Creator God – the place where he acted in mercy for his people.
So, you can understand the joy of David and the people when they finally settle the Ark in the city.
“God is with us!”“Whatever we face and whatever he calls us to do, he will be in us and it.
There is joy in trusting our God like this. There is good news for us! We have more than David ever had! We have much more than a golden box, beautiful though it was. We have a person not just a box!
St Paul prays for that we receive this new person….
18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe……..22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. Ephesians 1:18-24
Put even more concretely;
We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2 and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being. Hebrews 8: 2
Jesus is the Ark of the new covenant made in his blood – he is the Ark and he is the High Priest. He is our high priest who intercedes for us in the heavenly sanctuary not made by Moses or David but by Jesus himself.
Jesus is the presence of God here to bless, hear, empower, love and cover us with his mercy in all the challenges and suffering and hopes for the future we face.
Jesus our new kind David, our mediator in grace (Hebrews 9:15). He is the only mediator between sinners and a holy God who happens to have revealed his forgiving heart by the shed blood of his son, with which we are sprinkled in baptism and continue to be as we gather in his presence and receive in his holy meal. These are God’s visible signs of God’s continuing grace and love present with us always by faith in Jesus.
David does not hold back in responding to God ‘s presence in joy. Some do not appreciate this show of joy. Some would see this as unfitting, lacking dignity. Surely a King should not dance around half naked in front of the people….
How about us? The reality is that we are often joyless in our work, our study, our worship and our following of Jesus.
Joy is directly linked to vulnerability. David was willing to be quite vulnerable and open to God’s presence and respond to the Lord “with all his might” no matter at people said. Are we? I think not.
I wonder whether our pride and self-orientated need to keep up appearances, our refusal to let God in to our problems and our pain cut us off from joy in the Lord.
As a result we are weaker in faith. We struggle to share our faith with anyone or trust that God is truly present and active in us. Our mission to share the love and hope of Jesus with everyone is unfulfilled or something left to others.
If you have no joy in your life, is it because you will not let God in to that work place, that decision, that relationship, that hurt, that desire, that hope you are working for?
David is not having his own little “joy party” without a care for his people. He is leading his people in joy. His joy is personal but communal. He is vulnerable and he is aware and responding in joy with others.
David seems to know that it is important to express joy as a person and a leader. Joy is important for God’s people.
He knows that joy will stand him and the people in good stead when they fight giants and fears and enemies, and when suffering comes their way.
Friend, you have the joy of your Saviour today. Joy requires and openness to Jesus and his presence. It requires on one hand a carelessness about what people think and yet a concern for others also experiencing the joy of the Saviour’s presence and the power and confidence that comes from him when joy is shared.
Is it time to let go and let God just a little more in that old pain, or that troubled relationship, that personal suffering, that illness, that hope you have for your future?
As we open our heart and mind to the presence of Jesus in word, in sacrament, and in each other the joy of Jesus will be part of our experience.
He will make us his presence to those around us – little tabernacles – little dwelling places of Jesus to not only the chosen few, but the sinful many!
Friend, by God’s grace and faith in Jesus the new Ark of God, you can enjoy worship and respond to his presence in joy – sometimes quite visible like David, sometimes quietly but strongly inside. Approach each other with a certain vulnerability or openness to the Spirit of Jesus here. Joy will come often and we will be stronger for his presence and his joy for the challenges we face as a community of the Lord in this mission.
Here we all belong in Jesus’ presence.
Enjoy your faith.
Enjoy your church.
Enjoy your place at the table with your King.
It is what people after God’s own heart can do and be – joyful.