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Fourth Sunday of Advent

20 Dec 2020

Saint Margaret’s Anglican Episcopal Church

Budapest, Hungary

Trinity Church, Wall Street, is arguably the wealthiest –and one of the largest -- Anglican Church in the world. From its heyday in the nineteenth century until contemporary times, Trinity has served as the spiritual home, if you will, to some of America’s richest and most influential financiers, investors, and bankers.

Back in the early 1800s – according to legend -- the parish apparently set about building a vicarage for its priest or rector. The new parsonage turned out to be opulent and lavish beyond all measure in both size and appointments. The talk of the town, it was in fact beyond anything anyone had ever imagined for the use of a simple cleric and his family.

A member of the famously wealthy Astor family led the vicarage building project. He was challenged by a young, local reporter. Why, the journalist wanted to know, should the home of a lowly priest, of all people, be so sumptuous…? Mr. Astor was apparently taken aback by the question but then, regaining his composure, quickly responded, “Very simple, young man,” he said, “When parishioners come calling on their vicar, we want them to feel at home.”

“Go and tell my servant David,” God commands the prophet Samuel in our first reading today,” Are you the one to build me a house to live in? I have not lived in a house,” God continues, “since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day. But I have been moving about in a tent…” Hard to say what the Lord might have thought of Trinity Wall Street’s vicarage.

It seems that God is more the carefree, outdoorsy type, preferring a portable tent in the wilderness to the proper house of cedar David has it mind to build for him. Quickly changing the subject, the Lord reminds David, through Samuel, of all he has done – and continues to do—for his people – as if to say: Do not worry about me. It is my people who matter.

Of course, like it or not, God did finally get a proper townhouse or temple in Jerusalem, remnants of whose ramparts remain to this day and are known, sadly with good reason, as the Wailing Wall. Still, it is good to know that God is not fussy. God in fact seems to be pretty comfortable most anywhere and under most any circumstances – perhaps even being born of a poor young woman, as we hear announced in our Gospel passage today from the Infancy Narrative, or story, of Luke.

For, through the proclamation of the Angel and the consent of Mary herself – the Annunciation, as it is called -- the Lord has come to dwell among us, his people, as one of us. If the Lord never really wanted a temple of cedar or stone, as Samuel attests, it seems he tired as well of lugging around his desert kit and decided, as they say, to quite literally join the human race.

In us, and in his Incarnation, he has found a new dwelling of flesh and blood – ephemeral enough in one sense to be sure – but at the same time a lasting home and habitat among the very people he loves. It might not be Wall Street, but it seems to suit the Lord just fine. He has chosen human nature itself – us -- as his tent or dwelling. And, for that we can be grateful.

And, for that reason God can be found most anywhere people are to be found. Whether here on the fashionable Városligeti fasor with its turn of century mansions and embassies, in Svábhegy with its magnificent views, on Wall Street, or in our own humble abodes.

The Lord is never far from any of us.

The Rev. Dr. Frank Hegedűs

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