Sermonshowing promise title
Lent 1C,
February 14, 2016, St Petri

SHOWING PROMISE I: Thankful and Responsive

Deuteronomy 26:1-11
When you have entered the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance and have taken possession of it and settled in it, 2 take some of the firstfruits of all that you produce from the soil of the land the LORD your God is giving you and put them in a basket. Then go to the place the LORD your God will choose as a dwelling for his Name 3 and say to the priest in office at the time, “I declare today to the LORD your God that I have come to the land the LORD swore to our ancestors to give us.” 4 The priest shall take the basket from your hands and set it down in front of the altar of the LORD your God. 5 Then you shall declare before the LORD your God: “My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down into Egypt with a few people and lived there and became a great nation, powerful and numerous. 6 But the Egyptians mistreated us and made us suffer, subjecting us to harsh labour. 7 Then we cried out to the LORD, the God of our ancestors, and the LORD heard our voice and saw our misery, toil and oppression. 8 So the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders. 9 He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey; 10 and now I bring the firstfruits of the soil that you, LORD, have given me.” Place the basket before the LORD your God and bow down before him. 11 Then you and the Levites and the foreigners residing among you shall rejoice in all the good things the LORD your God has given to you and your household.

Theme Text for 2016. 2 Samuel 7:28

LORD, you are God!
Your covenant is trustworthy,
and you have promised good things to your servants.

Friends, we all have a story. Our stories are multi-layered. They are full of struggle, triumph, pain, joy and everything in between. But whatever our story has been or is now, by his cross and empty tomb, we are redeemed. At great cost to himself, he has given us the free gift of new life and hope for now and the future.

For us who have been redeemed from death and despair to life in his hope, Jesus has been our story. His community, the church, are part of our story too. Jesus’ word done and said over and over again has shaped our story. In him we belong to a story that begins before we ever were and points to the story yet to come that will be forever after we have finished the story of our lives here.

We as a church have a story, it is nearly 150 years long, and contains sadness, gladness, storm and calm, division and peace, moments of trouble and moments of great confidence in God’s power and love.

Here we are beginning another little journey – a Lenten journey. We believe that the Lord is calling us to engage in the journey of the cross, and to engage in the story that he is still writing with our lives in this community.

So, we have asked the question of the Lord this Lent: “What will we need this year to continue to live in God’s story – to live in his redeeming love; to be players in his mission to share the love of hope of Jesus in new ways or old ways renewed?

It seems that this is one of those pivot years – where a community of faith is called to take some risks, make some plans, commit them to each other and the Lord and go on boldly, carefully, wisely in faith as we respond to the Lord’s vision for us.

What does he want to give us this Lent? What do we need to hear and do as we reflect on his Word this Lent that will keep us faithful and free and fully engaged with our God and his mission among us?

We sense that the Lord is rebuilding this community of the redeemed – this local church. He is calling new people to this church. He is calling people to take up new service and learn new skills and find new relationships. He is calling those who have known this place as their spiritual home to keep on going as well as to allow others and others things to grow here as we share the journey of faith together.

So, you could say we are “showing promise” as a church. We are showing the promise God is creating, and we are then called to show his promise in whatever ways we can.

In this text from Deuteronomy today, Moses directs the people to be forever thankful to the Lord for all that he had done to make them into his very own people. They are to carry out this thankfulness in ritual where they express thanks to the Lord for giving them a family, a story, a present mission and a future glory. Thankfulness for the promise we are showing is what we need and what the Lord is giving us and calling us to show. I am thankful to him to be here at this time. I am thankful to be with you on this journey as a church. I pray that the Lord increase our thankfulness so we love each other eve more and that they know us by our love around here.

Another text for the year has come to light. This is also what the Lord is giving us, along with thankfulness. It is a Word from the Lord that underpins everything and everyone who has ever found themselves on the receiving end of the Lord rather large and boundless redeeming grace, including Moses; including us.

The text for the year is from David. It comes from his story of living in relationships with his Lord and it will be what underpins all we do together this year.

LORD, you are God!
Your covenant is trustworthy,
and you have promised good things to your servants. (2 Samuel 7:28)

David always wanted to build a great temple for the Lord. He always had it on his heart to provide a suitably beautiful and expansive dwelling place of God to which the people could come and pray and sing and receive blessing from the Lord for their lives. He said to the prophet, Nathan, “Here I am living in a palace while the Ark of the Covenant is out there is a tent” (2 Samuel 7:2).

It was true. The Ark of the Covenant, that golden box with the Cherubim and Seraphim fashioned onto it containing the stone tablets of the 10 Commandments given to Moses by the Lord – the place of God’s presence among his people, was still housed in the large tent that the Israelites had carried with them in the desert wandering (the tabernacle).

David asked the Lord about this a few times and through the Prophet, Nathan, the Lord said no to David. In the Lord’s grand scheme of things, David was not the one who would build a temple for the Lord.

David continues to ask if he can build a “house” for the Lord. God says something very surprising. He says you are not to build me a “house”. “I will build you a household”, says the Lord. David is overwhelmed with thankfulness. He is thinking too small!

God makes the astonishing promise to David that his family household will last forever. God tells David that the role of leadership in his kingdom is not to build big monuments like slaves have to do for their divine kings, but to shepherd and guide the nation under God’s divine rule.

God tells David that his family will last forever. His son, Solomon will build a temple as a dwelling place of God among the people. God’s community will be ruled by him through his underling – the king, and his spokesmen – the Prophets, and David’s household will never end.

David cannot believe the extent of God’s vision and grace for his family, the nation and the world!

“Who am I, O Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?”, he asks (2 Samuel 7:19).

“What more can I say to you, Lord?”

“LORD, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised good things to your servants”.

Like Moses before him and God’s people around him, he needed to show his thanks and live in thankfulness as the journey and the calling continued on. Same for us.

What more can we say to the Lord? He has given us life. He has called us into a community where love is the only rule. He has given us enough to know him closely – his Word – said and done together. He has given us a story, a history full of promise and a future full of the same.

In this year we may be making significant decisions about how we share the love and hope of the new Moses, the new David – Jesus of Nazareth, the king of all Kings and Good Shepherd of us all, we make all decisions concerning ministry directions, buildings development, financial stewardship, appointing and supporting of paid staff and everything else. He is overwhelming us with his vision for us and his extensive love for us. In this spirit of deep gratitude and simple trust in the goodness and the power of the Lord Jesus Christ to continue to build his household of faith where we live we keep moving on.

We enter these 40 days asking the Lord to show us what we need to enact his house-building plans – building up of the people and supporting that work with the development and improvement of buildings – especially this great building for the worship of the Lord.

We enter this 40 days with the commitment to serve – to literally “show promise” – his promise to people who don’t think there is any. The Spirit of Jesus is building his household here and we as a local church in mission are certainly showing signs of promise. We are showing promise and we are called to show promise.

By our serving, giving, welcoming, fasting and praying we show the world that God is alive and serving his world still.

We are redeemed. We have life. We have hope. We live in peace beyond all peace. What else can we say as Lent begins than,

“LORD, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised good things to your servants”.

Go ahead and show his promise with a thankful heart this Lent.

In the name of Christ.


Share or reflect on how things have been for you – share a high and low for time since you have seen each other or sat down to reflect……

Read the text from Deuteronomy slowly and deliberately pausing to let any questions or imagination come and note these. Share them…

Reflect on these alone and together – even writing down what comes from God’s Word as you go…..

Instruction: What does the text instruct you in about yourself, others, the world and the Lord?

Confession: What does the text call you to repent of?

Thanks: What does the text cause you to give thanks to God for?

Supplication: What does the text lead to ask God for?
Read the theme text in its context from 2 Samuel 7.

  •  Note the comment on the context of this text this in the sermon.
  • Maybe skim the whole chapter and even the one previous to understand what’s going on for David and how God speaks through Nathan the prophet…..
  • You could use a concordance or study bible notes to briefly trace David’s request of the Lord for permission build the Lord a temple if you have time….

Reflect on these alone and together – even writing down what comes from God’s Word as you go…..

Instruction: What does the text instruct you in about yourself, others, the world and the Lord?

Confession: What does the text call you to repent of?

Thanks: What does the text cause you to give thanks to God for?

Supplication: What does the text lead to ask God for?
Using the Lord’s Prayer as a ‘spine” or frame for you prayer, speak each of the parts and then put that individual part into your own words – very briefly or as long as you want.

Our Father in heaven:
Yes, lord you are beyond us and you created all things. You thoughts are not our thoughts but yet, you speak to us and have made yourself known to us in ways we can understand……We thank for this!

Hallowed be your name:
Yes, Lord, your name is holy and pure and great and we ask that help us honour your name today in all we do and say.

Your Kingdom come, your will be done…
Yes, Lord. Let you kingdom of grace ad mercy come to me and those I meet this week. Bring peace. Bring healing to those sick. Bring freedom to those captive to evil and sin……

Give us today our daily bread.
Yes, Lord. Provide for me and those I love today. Sustain our community and this world. Bring good harvest and bless the land and those who work it to feed the world…..

Forgive us as we forgive others…
Lord, help me to forgive wrongs done to me and forgive me when I get it wrong today.

Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
Lord, protect me and my family and those I love from all harm and danger. Protect the innocent and bring the wrongdoer to justice.
Save me from hard testing. Provide the way out when it gets too much. Protect me from the Evil one. Help me to stand with others when they are wronged.

For yours is the kingdom, power and glory…

Yes, Lord, the glory for everything good is yours, not ours. We gladly speak words of praise about your goodness and seek to live out your love given to us as we love others today…

Yes, Lord. May all this be so!