2021 Advent Devotions

II Samuel 7:18-29 | November 30, 2021

by Lacey Wondree

I was frequently told that I would know what unconditional love was once I had children. And then I had children. When I held my firstborn and then later my twins, I felt a new kind of love swell up. It was a protective and deep connection. It was something unexplainable. But as much as I love my children, my love for them does not always feel unconditional. There are times when my love for them feels contingent on them sleeping or listening or a slew of things. It is not that I don’t love them in those moments, but it feels a lot like “if you would just go to sleep, then we would all be happier right now.”

Upon first reading, this passage in 2 Samuel does not seem like an Advent passage. My first memory of this passage is my encounter with it during my Old Testament class in seminary. I took the class with Dr. Tony Cartledge, who happens to be the scholar who wrote the Smyth and Helwys commentary on 1-2 Samuel. I glossed over the passage in our preparatory readings, thinking very little of the passage’s impact. I quickly was taught otherwise.

We note that David’s prayer in this passage moves from humble deference to glad doxology to persistent demand. David wants God to uphold his promise that the house of David is to be blessed forever. According to Dr. Cartledge, this chapter and this text are the foundation of the theological bridge from law to grace. God’s faithful relationship with Israel was conditional and dependent on Israel’s obedience, which like my toddler, was unpredictable. Being obedient led to blessings. Being rebellious led to an absent God. The relationship between God and his people turned on the word if. In this covenant with David, God made a promise that was not dependent on David’s obedience or the obedience of his children. Instead, it is an unconditional promise of undeserved grace. The relationship between God and future generations will transition from an if to nevertheless. God’s love, through the grace and gift of Christ, will become unconditional love.

To this end, our relationship with Christ is not conditional, and there’s no greater hope than knowing this truth. Christ will love us no matter what. During this Advent and Christmas season, we are reminded of how Christ stepped into a conditional world and offered the unconditional.

In a world with conditional hope, Christ offers it unconditionally.
In a world with conditional peace, Christ offers it unconditionally.
In a world with conditional joy, Christ offers it unconditionally.
In a world with conditional love, Christ offers it unconditionally.

There is no more if. Nevertheless, there will be hope, peace, joy, and love.

Prayer: God of the unconditional, may we graciously accept the hope, peace, joy, and love that you offer us this season and always. We are ready to receive these gifts and to share them with the world. Amen.