Ah, the holidays (a contraction unto meaninglessness of “holy days”) are upon us.
We spend money, time and energy on votive offerings to keep family, friends, customers and all kinds of other folks happy. We make pilgrimages to unwanted gatherings for predictable melodramas.
I know that sounds sour. And it isn’t the universal experience. Some gift giving is fun and heart warming. The are plenty of precious get togethers going on.
But in the midst of all the stuff that Has To Get Done, it is worth proclaiming that the universe is in the hands of One who needs nothing from us but would lavish all upon us in love.
Thus says the Lord:
Heaven is my throne
and the earth is my footstool;
what is the house that you would build for me,
and what is my resting-place?
All these things my hand has made,
and so all these things are mine, says the Lord.
But this is the one to whom I will look,
to the humble and contrite in spirit,
who trembles at my word. (Isaiah 66:1-2 NRSV)
God has everything. We cannot earn value in his sight by some gift we bring. “What is the house that you would build for me?” echoes his rebuke of King David, who was convinced that he could build just the luxury apartment that God needed on earth. God told David to curb his guilt-driven activity and simply enjoy all that God so willingly gave him.
Then God gave more:
When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. (2 Samuel 7:12-13 ESV)
This prophecy found temporary expression in David’s son, Solomon, who built the great Temple of Jerusalem. But Solomon’s kingdom was not “forever.” The fulfillment of the prophecy is Jesus Christ, hailed as the “Son of David,” who is himself the cornerstone of the eternal temple and keeps connecting others to himself in creation’s epic and ultimate Lego project.
But this is the one to whom I will look, to the humble and contrite in spirit, who trembles at my word. Our holiday frenzy is too often an effort to earn value from those who have no real power to give it. Meanwhile, God is laying eternal value on those who realize they have nothing with which to impress Him and can simply receive.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Jesus, Matthew 5:3)