2 Samuel 6:1-5 (Common English Bible)
God’s chest is brought to Jerusalem
6 Once again David assembled the select warriors of Israel, thirty thousand strong. 2 David and all the troops who were with him set out for Baalah, which is Kiriath-jearim of Judah, to bring God’s chest up from there—the chest that is called by the name of the Lord of heavenly forces, who sits enthroned on the winged creatures. 3 They loaded God’s chest on a new cart and carried it from Abinadab’s house, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, Abinadab’s sons, were driving the new cart. 4 Uzzah was beside God’s chest while Ahio was walking in front of it. 5 Meanwhile, David and the entire house of Israel celebrated in the Lord’s presence with all their strength, with songs, zithers, harps, tambourines, rattles, and cymbals.
2 Samuel 6:14-19
14 David, dressed in a linen priestly vest, danced with all his strength before the Lord. 15 This is how David and the entire house of Israel brought up the Lord’s chest with shouts and trumpet blasts.
16 As the Lord’s chest entered David’s City, Saul’s daughter Michal was watching from a window. She saw King David jumping and dancing before the Lord, and she lost all respect for him.
17 The Lord’s chest was brought in and put in its place inside the tent that David had pitched for it. Then David offered entirely burned offerings in the Lord’s presence in addition to well-being sacrifices. 18 When David finished offering the entirely burned offerings and the well-being sacrifices, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of heavenly forces.19 He distributed food among all the people of Israel—to the whole crowd, male and female—each receiving a loaf of bread, a date cake, and a raisin cake. Then all the people went back to their homes.
Thoughts on the passage:
My preaching professor taught me to never start a sermon with a joke, because it sets the tone for everything else that follows. If the sermon is meant to be more than just my personal reflections but instead something that taps into what the Holy Spirit has to say, then do we want to start that with a joke? For that reason I have tried to always set the right tone with my sermon, starting with prayer and doing my best to make room for God’s message to be heard rather than my own.
It is important to approach things like God’s word with a sense of reverence, but there is a difference between reverence and drudgery. I believe that God has a sense of humor. Both C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien incorporate aspects of the resurrection and a Christ figure into their works of fiction. For Lewis, Christ is represented in Aslan who dies for the sake of others and is reborn. In Tolkien, the Christ figure comes in the form of Gandalf who is brought back to life to finish the work of driving out evil from Middle Earth. Both of these Christ figures are portrayed as having sense of deep joy to them beyond anything they had prior to their resurrections. Of course this makes sense since the resurrection is the most joyous of events, it is literal the Good News.
We are talking this week about the difference between fun and drudgery. While it is easy to focus on the fun aspect, the positive choice, we also need to think about the negative, drudgery. Why do churches choose drudgery? First of all I do not think this is something we actively choose but instead it is usually an unintended consequence of other actions and beliefs. Sometimes we take ourselves too seriously and drudgery ensues. Sometimes we take worship to seriously and again drudgery ensues. Sometimes we take our traditions to seriously and drudgery ensues. Sometimes we can even take God too seriously and drudgery ensues.
How can we take God, the Lord of All Creation, too seriously? I want to unpack that statement because I do not want to sound like I am trying to diminish the love and reverence that God is deserving. We take God too seriously when we forget that God created laughter and that joy is a natural response to God’s word. Look at the Psalms and over and over you will see signs of joy in response to God. How are we instructed to come to Jesus? We are told to come like little children. I for one can testify that little children are filled with fun not drudgery, joy not seriousness. We need to approach God with that same sense of uncontained laughter and praise.
Our story from Second Samuel today frames this same sense of drudgery and fun. David dances before the Ark as it is being processed in triumph. Filled with the love of God, he leaps and dances in joy. David is having fun. In the course of having fun he loses the dignity of his station as king. He behaves not with the gravity befitting his position, but instead opens up to the song of his heart and responds fully to the joy he feels for God. By contrast his wife is filled with shame. She looks upon her husband and remembers that he is not of noble birth and that he is clearly not behaving like a noble. Instead of entering with dignity in a solemn ceremony he leaps and dances like some performer and not a king.
To be a church of life we need to maintain a sense of deep joy and I would argue fun to what we do. Why, because the work we do is of the greatest importance, but it is also meant to be the most joy-filled thing we do. We are celebrating a God who loves the world, who is willing to die for the world. Is that not a thing of joy? Are we not happy about what God is doing for us? Does our worship reflect it? Do our meetings reflect it? Do our lives reflect it?
When we choose drudgery over fun we put God into a box, we contain our feelings and set them aside and we try and trap God into the narrow confines of appropriate actions. God is not meant to be confined. God comes and goes like the whirlwind and cannot be confined not even in the Temple. We are choosing fun, not to attract new people or to lessen God’s message, but as an honest response to the joy we feel toward a God of life, a God who saves us and a God who is working through us to transform the world.
Questions to Ponder:
When is a time where you had fun in church?
Who is someone you know who exhibits a deep joy for what God is doing in their life?
How might you change your own practices of faith to allow more fun to be shone?
What does fun look like to you?
Prayer: Wondrous God, we feel your love all around us and it fills us with joy. Free us now for the judgement in our own heads or the judgement of others that we might worship you freely. Let our actions be an honest response to what you are doing in our lives. Help us to break out of the restrictions we place on ourselves that we might fully follow you. AMEN