Closing the Holiness Gap
Exodus 20:1-17 & John 2:13-22
Third Sunday in Lent
I want to invite you into a slightly warped and not necessarily biblically accurate way of looking at the juxtaposition of those two texts.
The first is a bunch of rules for living in relationship – first with God and then with the rest of the people in the community. They are, in this format, pretty low barrier.
Then there are three books – Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy – with clarifications and further commentary and ways of ensuring that holy relationship between God and humanity and humanity and one another. The barriers began to mount. Things got complicated. Eventually, whether because of the passage of time or the influence of Babylon and Rome or the inevitable result of increased non-conquering encounters with other cultures, rules became more important than rituals. How things got done became more important than that things got done.
And when Jesus came into the Temple that day, in our second story, he saw
- Commercialized sacrifice
- Profit driving temple taxes
- A smug elite that made sure undesirable elements didn’t mess up the system
And he lost it.
Neither of these seems like a particularly good reading for Annual Meeting Sunday. We already have our Mission Statement, our Vision Statement, our Congregational Covenant, all aimed at facilitating our relationships with God and with each other. We are progressive and radically inclusive and committed to creating a low barrier community for worship, faith, spirituality and fun. So if Jesus were to come in here, what would he have to say?
Just looking at the gospel of John so far, I wonder
- Do we turn enough water into wine? (John 2:1-12)
- Are we stuck hiding under the fig tree? (John 1:43-51)
- Are we stuck on what God should be doing instead of paying attention to what we could be doing with God? (John 1:19-34)
It comes back to Kathy Davies’ question: Where do we want to be get to and what are we doing to get there?
Are we in a temple courtyard that we have filled with barriers to spiritual wholeness or have we got a sense of what will help us follow Jesus faithfully in community with one another? And where we are not there yet, what can we destroy or throw out in order to get there?