Advent: God With Us

2 Samuel 6:1-11

David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. David and all the people with him set out and went from Baale-judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the Lord of hosts who is enthroned on the cherubim. They carried the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart with the ark of God; and Ahio went in front of the ark. David and all the house of Israel were dancing before the Lord with all their might, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals.

When they came to the threshing-floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen shook it. The anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah; and God struck him there because he reached out his hand to the ark; and he died there beside the ark of God. David was angry because the Lord had burst forth with an outburst upon Uzzah; so that place is called Perez-uzzah to this day. David was afraid of the Lord that day; he said, ‘How can the ark of the Lord come into my care?’ So David was unwilling to take the ark of the Lord into his care in the city of David; instead David took it to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. The ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite for three months; and the Lord blessed Obed-edom and all his household.

What a prickly text for advent. As we spend the season reflecting and turning inward; spending time anticipating the arrival of the long-expected Christ to bring the living presence of God to the world, this text seems remarkably out of place. The Ark of God, carefully prepared for transport travels toward the City of David. The procession toward the city is quite a production: there is music and dancing, and celebrating “with all their might.” It seems even the oxen entrusted with the precious cargo join in the revelry, when one of them stumbles and threatens to topple the Ark where God sits entrhoned between two cherubim.  

Aghast, Uzzah reaches out to steady the ark; to protect the presence of God and is immediately struck down. The God who hears, who sees, who saves is angry – so angry, that God returns this act of attempted protection with an act of destruction. I’m so taken aback at first glance as a bystander, that my first reaction is “wow, God, while you’re at it, why not kill the ox that stumbled too?”  

And then I am reminded that the holiness of God that permeates the space within and outside of the Ark has no bounds – it can’t be toppled over, dirtied with the dust of the earth, or extinguished; nor can a well-meaning human’s hand keep it from going where it will go. Indeed the presence of God is the dust of the earth, trampled by the hooves of dancing oxen; pleased to celebrate in this symphony of praise. The presence of God is the music from the lyre, and dulcet pings of the harp; the sacred dance of a people who belong to one another and to the divine.  

As David’s own anger burns against God for this angry, violent destruction of a person in the midst of celebrating the presence of God among them, we are reminded of that ways in which our complex existence on this earth, our nuanced experiences of humanity in all its joy and pain are intricately tied to the holy presence of God in ways that we might never understand. The Ark finds a home, following David’s refusal to be in such close proximity to it, with Obed-Edom, the Gittite. For three months as the Ark is housed there, Obed-Edom and his household are blessed.  

The presence of God is an opportunity for blessing. It is also an opportunity for clarity and focus. As we come face to face with the presence of God, a presence expressed during Advent through a process of holy patience and waiting, we are reminded of the ways in which God with us is a wonderful promise and a sobering reality. God with us is a celebration of welcome; not just for the ones who have easy access to the presence of God, who reach out to claim it on a whim when a little stumble in the road pops up. God with us is a promise of liberation for all who would welcome the long-expected, holy one, born to set us all free. 

Sara Robb-Scott

Sara Robb- Scott is Director of Mission and Ministry at Eaton Senior Communities and Pastor of West Alameda Community Baptist Church, in Lakewood Colorado. Sara lives with her husband, Andrew, and their cat, ReeseeMuffin, in Aurora,  Colorado. Sara enjoys cooking, playing piano and violin, and going to musicals with Andrew. She blogs at