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Celebrations 2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19; Mark 6:14-29

Today we are celebrating. We are celebrating Lacie’s baptism. Most people enjoy celebrations and parties. It’s a time to be together, to be happy. Usually there is food, music and sometimes even dancing. Yesterday our family had an 80th birthday celebration and next weekend as a church we celebrate our saint’s day; a couple in our congregation are also going to be celebrating their Golden Wedding anniversary. We hope for good weather!

Two Celebrations in the Bible
One good and one that went bad. Difficult to understand so my job to try and explain a little. Going to concentrate on the good one more for two reasons: first the bad celebration is not really one for “family viewing” because someone got their head cut off (though there are plenty of fairy tales where the king says “Off with his head!”) But a better reason because we are following the story of King David and the first reading is about him and the day something very special happened for him and his people. It was a very important occasion – a time when a new start was made. It is a bit like our celebration for Lacie when we mark the start of her Christian life through baptism.

The Ark Comes to Jerusalem
We have learnt how David the shepherd boy (the one who wrote Psalm 23) grew up to become king of his people Israel and his capital city was Jerusalem. There was something missing from his city, though, and this is what the celebration was all about: they were celebrating the arrival of the ark of the covenant. The ark was not Noah’s ark which was a boat. This ark was a special holy box that contained the 10 commandments and some other special things from the days of Moses. (The film Raiders of the Lost Ark is a make-believe story about the same ark being discovered.) This box had been in several different temporary places until David was ready to bring it to Jerusalem. In some ways it was no more than a special kind of chest to store religious things in it. But much more important was it stood for the presence of God with his people. Sometimes miraculous or frightening things happened with it, and that is why it was treated with so much care and ceremony. Once it had arrived in Jerusalem David gave it a proper place in the temple-tent and the people’s prayers and worship were done near it. David and some of his people were so excited about the ark arriving in Jerusalem that they danced in procession. Michal, David’s wife, thought that he was being very undignified – he wasn’t wearing much more than a special holy robe called an ephod, and she thought he was foolish for getting so wild about it. But then perhaps she didn’t understand what it meant for David. It stood for God blessing him and his people.

God with us
Although the ark was just an object, even if it was a holy kind of trunk, what it stood for was more important. The 10 commandments showed God’s people how they were to live if they wanted him to be with them and bless them. The other things in the box also reminded them of how God had been with them in the past. When we baptise someone it is only ordinary water that we use – whether we use a little to pour over a baby or enough to put someone right in over their head! But it is what the water stands for that is important. The water stands for God’s blessing of his people right from the creation. The water reminds us that it is by God’s grace and our faith that we can belong to him. It reminds us that because Jesus came to be with us, not as a dead box, but as a living person, we can know God for ourselves. Inside Jesus there are not two stones with 10 commandments carved on them – inside him there is a whole living way to be friends with God. It is not about living by a set of rules but by an alive and real relationship of love. We pray for every child brought here for baptism that they will grow up to know this relationship with God for themselves. It is something we should be excited about – so excited that we want to dance, to celebrate even if we get a bit carried away like David! All the people got some party food, too! I hope you enjoy your party afterwards!

Copyright © Rev Paul Smith




Generous God,
you give us gifts and make them grow:
though our faith is small as mustard seed,
make it grow to your glory
and the flourishing of your kingdom;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.