Lent Reflection – Third Sunday

Gentle Jesus, meek and mild…
as if.

He loved the unlovable.
He welcomed the untouchable.
He challenged the unquestionable.
He subverted and overturned assumptions.
Come Jesus, upset the altars of my false gods
and make my heart a house of prayer.

Reading John 2:13-22

Imagine the scene, a thriving church in the middle of the town. The noticeboards filled with posters and rotas showing just how active, how busy the people are. You can tell it’s a special day, as you come to the doors there are stalls selling crafts, some selling plants, more than one selling cakes – all to raise money for the church. There are lots of people there and business is brisk.

A young visiting minister approaches, but instead of heading straight for the cake stall you can see the anger growing on his face and he throws the first tables over, scattering knitted hats, then he throws some of the baked treats at people driving them out of the building.

It’s hard to imagine the shock and disruption of Jesus’ actions in this passage. But I wonder how he would react to some of the things we take as normal in our churches. We can visit cathedrals where you have to pay for entry, churches where the beauty of the architecture, or the windows, or the statues seem to have more attention than the faithfulness of the people. We can think of churches where the quality (or style) of the music seems to be more important than the welcome given to the stranger. We can think of places where the stranger feels no welcome but is subtly (or unsubtly) reminded that they are not part of the family.

But what of us, and our place of worship – has it become a ‘marketplace’ focussed on profit and loss, on keeping the roof on, or the music playing – on the mundane rather than the divine? Which tables need to be overturned in us, in our communities and in our churches? What takes our time, resources and efforts away from God’s purpose?

Pray this week that the Holy Spirit will overturn the things that distract you from seeking God’s presence, and allowing the love, joy and wholeness that flows from it overflow into the world around.

Holy God, in Jesus Christ you have built for us
an eternal house, a temple of righteousness,
a place of gracious plenty for the hungry
and abundant life for the poor in spirit.
Fill us with zeal for the body of Christ.
Overturn the tables of corruption and greed
and upset the imbalance of injustice,
so that we may worship you in spirit and truth;
through Jesus Christ, who is risen indeed.

posted on the Presbyterian Church USA website and reposted on the re-Worship blog.