David Brings Back the Ark - Pastor April's Sermon - 10/25/15

David Brings Back the Ark

2 Samuel 5:1-5, 6:1-5

Given by Rev. April S. Blaine on Sunday, October 25, 2015

So, we continue our journey today through the Old Testament.  This fall, we’ve begun a journey of re-reading the stories of Scripture, through the particular lens of God’s love for all people.

Before we had two amazing weeks of powerful testimonies from Jason and Tracy,

At the start of October, we left off with the Israelites at the edge of the Promised Land, they’re just about to cross over and Moses wants to be sure that they remember that as they build this new nation – that they ground their lives in God’s commandments – predominantly God’s commandment to LOVE.

This was to be their identity as they stepped into this promised land and built their nation.

And the story where we read today is the other side of that hope.

They have arrived.  They are a nation.  They have a king – King David.  And they are a united people.  They are bringing their grand ark of the covenant and putting it in its proper place of centrality for their worship.

Today’s Scripture is what they had hoped and dreamed about – when they stood on the edge of that Jordan River.

But the road to get there was a messy one – the pathway wasn’t always pretty.

So, I brought with me today a map to help us see the bigger picture.

This was the land that the Israelites began to inhabit – and they separated according to tribes.  They had some obstacles – since the land wasn’t exactly EMPTY when they got there, but through battle upon battle – they came to occupy the region.

The first rulers were judges -

People through whom God would speak when they had lost their way – People who would give guidance to the tribes.

But as Israel became more of a presence – more of a stabilized community -

They wanted a KING.

Their first king – Saul – starts out OK, but later turns out to be not so good and loses his favor with God

and then God anoints David to be the next king.

The stories of David are legendary right.  The shepherd boy – the one who slays Goliath, the one who plays the harp and can soothe even King Saul’s fearful persona.

He is a man after God’s own heart.

David is also a great military ruler as well –

And so -  the people are excited about the possibility of David as their next ruler.

And so when Saul dies, there is a division - the northern part of Israel, claims Saul’s son – Ishbehoth as their king – but Judah – claims David as their king.

And so ensues years of fighting within this young nation.

David begins to get the upper hand – and then finally Ishebhoth is assassinated by some over-zealous David supporters.

And so the moment where our story begins today is just after his death.

the northern part of Israel– reaches out and says – David, we need you to be our king as well.

We want to be in covenant with you.  And as a nation – we want one king to rule us all again

So, David’s kingship is solidified and he is now king over all of Israel.

David proceeds to shore up the area for Israel – to drive out the Philistines and restore control over Jerusalem.  It is a really important moment for this new nation.  They have come together and they have achieved what they set out to do.

Now, I like to imagine that at this moment, David takes some time away.  Some time to reflect about just how far they have come.

I imagine that the way it all happened was NOTHING like David imagined.  All those years back when he was told that this was his future.  I’m sure that things didn’t really turn out the way he had planned.

And yet, through the mess – David recognizes that God is still with them.  That the promise of God is still theirs.  And that the call to be a people set apart – a people whose lives are grounded in love.  It’s still their call.

And so he makes this really important decision

He decides that it is time to return the ark of the covenant to its rightful place of worship.

Now the ark of the covenant had not been lost – it had just been neglected.  It had been at the home of Abinadab since during the time of Saul’s reign.  Kept safe, but tucked away in a closet – not brought as a central part of the covenant of God’s people and as the central place of worship that it had been designed to be.

You see, the ark of the covenant was this powerful symbol – this deep reminder that God was present with them.  It wasn’t anything fancy.  – a box of acacia wood.  With cherubims.  The material itself wasn’t what was important.

But it was the place that contained the Ten Commandments – the jar of manna from heaven that reminded them of God’s presence with them.  And it was the place where they would make their sacrifice each year – the blood of the lamb – recognizing the grace and forgiveness that God was granting them despite the ways they had fallen away.

This ark of the covenant was a deep reminder of the covenant that God had made with them and that they had made with God.

Bringing it back out of the closet – singing the songs of praise – was an act of trust and obedience.

From the rocky past, to an uncertain future, they would commit to walking with God and seeking God’s ways.

Today, is our Stewardship Sunday – the day where we ask our regular attenders and members to make their financial commitments to the church for the calendar year 2016.

It is a commitment we ask our community to make to help us better be prepared to do the work of ministry in this place.

And we do this in the context of worship – as a community – because it is indeed a symbol of our covenant – one we are making with our church community and also with God.

I don’t know the rocky road that  has brought you to Summit church during this season and time of your life.  I imagine that it held some twists and some turns that you never anticipated.  For some of you – the fact that you are even here on a Sunday morning at church – is not something you expected might be true of your  life.

The road that has brought us here this far both as individuals and as a church has been filled with unexpected surprises.

And yet here we are…  and God is with us.  And though we may not know the future, we can have faith that God will continue to carry us through.

Our commitments that we make today are an act of worship and a firm belief about all the ways that God is trustworthy to carry us forward.