Today’s scripture: 2 Samuel 7:18-29 The Message (MSG)
18-21 King David went in, took his place before God, and prayed: “Who am I, my Master God, and what is my family, that you have brought me to this place in life? But that’s nothing compared to what’s coming, for you’ve also spoken of my family far into the future, given me a glimpse into tomorrow, my Master God! What can I possibly say in the face of all this? You know me, Master God, just as I am. You’ve done all this not because of who I am but because of who you are—out of your very heart!—but you’ve let me in on it.
22-24 “This is what makes you so great, Master God! There is none like you, no God but you, nothing to compare with what we’ve heard with our own ears. And who is like your people, like Israel, a nation unique in the earth, whom God set out to redeem for himself (and became most famous for it), performing great and fearsome acts, throwing out nations and their gods left and right as you saved your people from Egypt? You established for yourself a people—your very own Israel!—your people permanently. And you, God, became their God.
25-27 “So now, great God, this word that you have spoken to me and my family, guarantee it permanently! Do exactly what you’ve promised! Then your reputation will flourish always as people exclaim, ‘The God-of-the-Angel-Armies is God over Israel!’ And the house of your servant David will remain sure and solid in your watchful presence. For you, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, Israel’s God, told me plainly, ‘I will build you a house.’ That’s how I was able to find the courage to pray this prayer to you.
28-29 “And now, Master God, being the God you are, speaking sure words as you do, and having just said this wonderful thing to me, please, just one more thing: Bless my family; keep your eye on them always. You’ve already as much as said that you would, Master God! Oh, may your blessing be on my family permanently!”
If you have been on this list before, you know I love a group called “Improv Everywhere.” At least once each season, I tend to highlight one of their youtube videos and today gets to be that day. This group, lead by Charlie, exists to “cause scenes.” They set up Improv opportunities around New York just purely to catch people by surprise and to delight. All of their improv scenes are to create a sense of pure delight. This causes you to look up and around. It is not the norm. In fact, some of their scenes give these amazing experiences to people. They set up impromptu weddings for people or dates in the park, etc. Not only do we benefit from the spectacle, but those walking by benefit and so do the people putting on the scene. That is what I want to focus on today.
The video that I have attached was their latest stunt. On Black Friday they set up a group of people outside of a dollar store to pretend that they had been there all night waiting. The scene is that they are to be really excited to enter the store, buy a few things, and then they can leave. What ends up happening is that folks really do wait in line for a bit and enjoy it. Then they really do get excited to go into this little dollar store and enjoy. And they really do each purchase an item or two and really do shop and then they enjoy that. As I am watching this I am wondering, when does the scene become a reality for the folks putting it on? Because in reality, the people in the line have taken on that experience and are now truly interacting with the store owner, with the “reporter” and with each other.
And then there is the store owner. I love that they chose some little hole in the wall 99 cent store to descend upon. This is part of the neighborhood and store owner seems truly boggled and grateful. This is not some chain but his livelihood. His experience is one that will be remembered. He didn’t open early for the crowds but when the time came, he welcomed them with open arms and the day changed. His mundane became pretty spectacular.
In our 2 Samuel passage, King David is in the midst of building a dwelling place for God and in this particular piece of the passage, he offers his prayer. King David offers this prayer to God loudly and with much fanfare. For David, he is constantly trying to figure out what God wants and what he wants. He knows God wants attention and David needs to establish a place for his own being. King David constantly struggles between continuously bolstering his ego and his piety. David is incredibly human in this way. This prayer is the perfect mix of that. He shows off and create a scene for all to recognize but in the midst of that prayer, his reality of his true dedication to God comes through. Basically he fakes it until he makes it…can I say that about King David? He is creating his own improv everywhere that seems to blur the boundaries between scene and true prayer.
I think sometimes that has to be the case for us as well. For once perhaps David is a good model for this. I hosted a group of clergywomen at my house last night to just hang out. We rarely get to do so. There are 8 of us in McMinnville and 5 of us met to just be before the season really gets hectic. Over and over again, my colleagues mentioned, “It doesn’t feel like December or Advent to me yet.” While I agreed, I had to stop and think that perhaps we need to fake it til we make it. If we don’t create some intentional spaces of dwelling in Advent or catching the surprises of the season or creating our own scenes we probably won’t feel like it is December yet. But if we pray when we don’t feel like it or if we wait in line even if we think we are just being part of a scene maybe then our experience will shift. Our prayer might become more genuine and our experience might open up. Through all of this, know that you are not alone if it doesn’t quite feel like it yet…but spend some time to recognize that and create space anyway.
Prayer: Creator God, open up spaces that we might feel your coming. Hear our prayer and help us live into the season. Co create spaces of joy and surprise with us. Allow us to connect with others in unexpected ways. Sit with us in those let down spaces. Amen.