Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
Pastor Heidi R. Chamberlain
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Christ's Throne

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December 21:

Christ's Throne
Call:       Romans 16: 25-27
Reading:    W&S #1
Text:       2 Samuel 7: 1-11, 16
Closing:    Judges 21: 25

            Christ's Throne

Today we devote some of our holiday season
to playing our own "Game of Thrones."

Well ....., that is a slight exaggeration.
    "Playing" is probably not the right verb
And "Game" may not be the right noun.

But we are      going to spend some time examining thrones

After all, kings sit on thrones.
    And we call Christ our king.

First, however, a few words of reassurance:
Our "Game of Thrones"
         Is not violent - although his life ended with some violence
Our "Game of Thrones"
          Is not a competition - although some tried to compete
And lastly, our "Game of Thrones
    Requires scripture - not access to HBO.

For those who prefer dictionaries to premium television channels,
    I have found two basic definitions of "throne"

It seems practical to begin with them.

The first definition:
    "A chair or seat occupied by a sovereign, bishop, or other exalted personage, usually raised on a dais ..."

And to this,    I would add
that the chair or seat would usually be made of wood with ornate carving-like designs,
covered with plush material,
and having a tall, upright, straight back.

Take a look at the chairs behind me.
    Tall, upright, and straight backs
    Rose colored plush upholstery
    Ornate  carving-like designs    in the wood.
    Raised on a dais

Marge and I could sit in those chairs
    And look like King James and Queen Margaret.

But, I am not royal or regal        I'm not a king

And thus it should be clear that
A throne cannot make one a real king.
But as we think about Christ
a real king can make anyplace a throne.

And yet, all too often, we get that backwards
    And think that the royal trappings
Are what make a king.
And are the means by which we recognize a king.

If that were the case, however,
we would not,   could not,  and should not
    Celebrate the birth of Christ as the birth of a king.

After all,
    The throne of the new born king was not
        A chair with a tall, straight, and upright back
    It was not a chair covered with velvet or other fine cloth
    It was not a chair made from rare and exquisite wood.

It was a manger, a trough used to feed animals
    Probably made of crude stone.
And located - not in a palace or other grand building -
But in a cave-like stable.

The second definition       is derived from
    The practice of a sovereign sitting on such a chair.

This definition is shorter and simpler:
    "The office or dignity of a sovereign."

Thus when one is said to have ascended to his ancestor's throne
    It means that he has the authority of the office that his ancestor held
    Not merely that he sits in his ancestor's chair.

It is the authority of the office    that we find in this morning's text.
    A text that is the authority of the kingship of the Jews
        And thus the expectations the Jews had for and of
The anointed one
        Whom they saw would be the fulfillment
of the promises God made in the text.

He was to ascend to     and to occupy   David's throne
And reign forever as King of the Jews

Interestingly, the text about David's throne
 Actually begins with David wanting to build God a house.
In all likelihood as an act of love and gratitude
David had just built himself a palace - a great and elaborate palace
    But then realized God was believed to live in a lowly tent.

A man of God, David consulted the prophet Nathan
The "God House Building Project" made sense to Nathan
    Who told David to go ahead and do it
for "the Lord is with you."

The Lord was with him
But the Lord had a different thought.   [2 Samuel 7: 1-11]

David wanted to make God a house    But God said, "NO!"

God asked where David got the idea
    After all, God had never asked anyone to build God a house.
David   hadn't built God a house,
    And yet God had called him from following the sheep to be a prince over Israel

David   hadn't built God a house
    And yet God had cut off David's enemies.

David   hadn't built God a house
    And yet God now promises to make David a great name
to give Israel a safe place
and to give David rest from his enemies

David   hadn't built God a house
    And yet     as God forbids him to do so
God promises to make David a house.

Of course, by "house"
God is promising not a physical structure
    David already had a great one of those
Instead, God is promising
to make David's family a dynasty that would rule over Israel
He promises David's throne to David's descendants

Question: Why didn't God want David to make the house?

Part of it is that, of course,  God didn't need a house
    And could never be confined by a house
        No matter how grand it was

But God's rejection of David's offer was also to establish
that God is the source of all things
    Including David's authority to rule

God's love and grace for David
Were the reasons David had power and authority
    He didn't have them because
        He had done nice things for God
        Like building God a temple made of cedar.

And God was about to make even more promises to David
    Promises that were from that love and grace
    Promises that were not made to repay David for his kindness.

Is there any clearer message that God's grace and love
    Are given freely and not earned in any human sense?

God rejected David's offer to build God a home
    And then    made promises to him.

God wanted David and the generations to follow
    To understand that our blessings come from God's grace

And so, after rejecting the "God House Building Project"
God made those additional promises, [2 Samuel 12-16]
These promises build on the earlier promises
    I will raise up your offspring
    He shall build a house  for my name
        (note: not for God,     but for God's glory and name)
    I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever
    I will be a father to him and he shall be a son to me
    When he commits inequity
        (And several of David's offspring did)
        I will punish him
        But I will not take my love from him.

And then God emphasized this gift by reiterating
    "Your house and your kingdom
shall be made sure forever before me;
Your throne shall be established forever"

Quite a gift.   Quite a promise.

But also an effective way of conveying the message that
    The authority for this kingdom came from God
        Not from a David who had earned it
        By building God a house.

And that message looms large in God's fulfilling the promise,
    When in sending a king in answer to the people's prayers
        God sent a king to bring justice and righteousness
        But a king without the royal trappings.

God sent a king
    Whose first throne was a manger
Whose last throne was a cross
        Neither was a fancy chair.

The king God sent had a different kind of throne
    Because he was a different kind of king
God had sent a king like they needed
    Not a king like they thought they needed.

As a result, while the king was (ostensibly) of the house of David
many did not recognize him or his authority
and     several even opposed him.

And to further complicate things,
God greatly expanded the king's authority.

For although this king was sent to sit on David's throne
- in the sense of a throne as an office  or position -
he was not confined to David's throne

God who had created all people thus
sent God's son to be king not just of the Jews
but of all of God's people

Isaiah has made this clear to us throughout Advent

When telling us to build the level highway to God, Isaiah announced,
    "Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together."  [Isaiah 40: 5]

Then last week as we heard about
the hammer of justice
the bell of freedom
and the song of love between our brothers and sisters all over the land,
    we heard Isaiah proclaim,
        "The Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
            to spring up before all the nations.

In questioning and opposing his authority
The wealthy and powerful wanted to  "build God's king"
    Just like David wanted to           build God's house.

They wanted to define the identifying characteristics of this
narrowly and from their self centered perspective.

As we have seen, the word "house" like the word "throne"
Can have more than one meaning.

It can mean a physical structure        or it can mean a dynasty

In fulfilling the promise to make a house for David
    God allowed David's son Solomon
to construct the physical structure.

But God sent David's later descendant, King Jesus,
to build the dynasty house
and to rule with   justice,   righteousness,   and inclusiveness
This house is Christ's church.

The house that was built through Solomon was destroyed years ago
The house that was built through Jesus is and will
continue to serve God and God's children - forever.

Wednesday night,
    You and I will gather to celebrate the birth of the real king
    We will recall his first earthly throne with joy
        While his last earthly throne looms over us.