Speaking to the Soul: Spring cleaning with Jesus

by

John 2: 13-22

Jesus is in the temple and he means business. He’s come to proclaim the new covenant, even though he knows it will cost him his life. But Jesus is not a go-along-get-along guy. For openers, he won’t preach the good news surrounded by the commercial corruption that permeates the house of the Lord. So he overturns counters, dumps the cash drawers and drives the merchants and their livestock from the temple

It seems straight forward enough, ‘til we realize that once again Jesus is operating on more than one level. The temple that he says will be destroyed and rebuilt is a direct reference to his own approaching sacrificial death and resurrection. And indirectly he tells us that if we are to live in the house of the Lord, we have to do it with reverence and respect. Jesus is all about love. But his love is consistently obedient to the Father. And as prophesied: Zeal for (God’s) house will consume me.

In fulfilment of the prophecy Jesus is not consumed with love of the temple’s architecture, its construction or even its sanctuary. The Greek word for house, oikus, also means household. And it is for the household of God, his errant misguided people that Jesus laments. He calls on his people to recoil from sin, to purge themselves… to repent. This translation also reinforces Christ’s identifying himself as a temple that will be destroyed and rise again in three days. As part of his household, as members of the Body of Christ, we know we will rise with him to eternal life.

As a kid, hearing this gospel for the first time, naturally I identified with the good guy… the righteous Jesus. And I looked down on the bad guys… the money changers who were messing-up the temple. Over time I’ve come to realize a deeper meaning. The people that Jesus drove from the temple are the very same people he came to save. They are sinners. They are us. The people who mocked him are the same people he would lay down his life for. They are sinners… no different from us… especially when we mock him with indifferent lip-service and call it prayer… especially when we live self-centered lives and call ourselves Christians. Jesus was not deceived by the faux piety of the money changers. He saw through them as he sees through us. And yet, even in his wrath, he loved them as he loves us. He died for us all: in our sins… in our greed, in our neglect, in our arrogance, in our cruelty. Jesus does not love us for whom we ought to be or for whom we want to be. He loves us as we are … in our falls and in our resurrections.

He does not drive us out. He gathers us in… to live in his love… to live for his love. Jesus uses this gospel to tell us that we have a lot of cleaning-up to do. Paul tells us: Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? (1Cor 3:16.) Lent is set aside for each of us to give our temples a really thorough spring cleaning. Sure, we’re spiritually sprucing up all year round. But Lent is reserved for the really heavy-duty job… purging the temple that God gave us, rededicating it to his service.

Start with a rigorous spiritual inventory: Do we truly accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior? Is he at the center of our life or on the periphery? Are we in continuous conversation with Jesus or have we silently drifted away? What immediate opportunities do we have to witness Christ’s love? What obstacles exist? What weaknesses can we isolate and eliminate? What strengths can we build on? What about our relationships: family, neighbors, co-workers? What are our priorities? How do we spend our time?

This isn’t a complete list. But it is a good start to tackling your own spiritual spring cleaning. So, roll up your sleeves and pitch in. It will make your life neater, healthier, happier… holier. And don’t forget to ask Jesus to lend a hand… throwing out the guilt, polishing up the joy, making room for love. Spring cleaning with Jesus… that’s what Lent is for.

image: “Gdańsk Entry into Jerusalem (detail)” by Anonymous (Gdańsk) – Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

 

The Reverend David Sellery, Episcopal Priest, Author, and Coach. Fr. Sellery presently serves as Priest-in-Charge, St. John’s Salisbury, CT. Fr. Sellery has excelled at using new media to increase outreach beyond the Church doors via his website, blog posts, and podcasts.

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Emily Windsor
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I preach, not from the point of view of individual libertarianism and free will, but from the point of view of God's Covenants with mankind, one-at-a-time. Why? Because each Covenant represents a whole Lesson in Civil behavior.

And I know it's the practice of some, with the prompting of the Apostle Paul, to wave away, discount and trample the previous Covenants. But I leave Paul to his own Judgment Day in the sight of Almighty God.

Adam's Covenant: Care for the Garden and the Animals, was about Stewardship.

Noah's Covenant: Preserve yourselves from Calamity, was about mobilizing in troubled times; to the effect that later, Abraham, Moses and the whole company of Israel practiced mobilization, in the Diaspora.

Abraham's Covenant: to be faithful to God, mobilized, for a Kingdom. But what he had to do--which is very difficult for somebody traveling and camping--was practice the constant discipline of Literacy, and keep track of his bloodline's business.

Moses' Covenant was to write down the Law and make it work. It was to create a society in which public health, personal hygiene, sanitation, nutrition and health were incorporated into religious practice-- a task which ancient Israel failed at because they kept returning to Babylonian meta-physics and sacrificial dogma.

The Diaspora was inflicted upon Israel--the loss of Temple Service and Jubilee--so the "Seeds of Abraham" would learn how to get along with the Planet and its Peoples. And it was successful because the Tribes of Dan and Judah came to Peace in Northern Europe for a thousand years, 583BC to 400AD, until Roman Armies trod over them.

Jesus' Covenant was that of Grace--not making an idol of Rules--but examining the heart of every matter, until an issue can be resolved by consensus and not by violence.

The Church wants to tell me, Jesus' living sacrifice is the only Covenant I need to care about. I don't think so. It appears to me the body of Believers-in-God have trash-canned almost the entire story in scripture, in order to keep pounding and hammering on the one single point of departure: sacrifice of one's life to stand for something.

I attend Eucharist as often as I need to, to realize that sometimes you have to be willing to give it all up, to make a point. And yes, there will be a Covenant of the Great Sabbath of God when Shiloh comes, when the Kingdom functions as moral and ethical grounding for the people, when swords have been broken into plow-shares, when power-relations are mitigated by Truth-telling, Consensus-building [technologies-within-hierarchy] and Honest business-dealings.

So, the total is seven Covenants of God, and we're still in the Sixth, but on the cusp of that great Sabbath of God--

The seventh Covenant -- "For the meek themselves shall inhabit the Earth; and they shall find their exquisite delight in the abundance of Peace." Psalm 37 is the Great Sabbath of God.

To my way of thinking, other points need making besides sacrifice and pleading for Deliverance; and lately, the Covenants of God are not among the most frequent points that show up on the Table of God. And maybe that's why God appears to be delaying in the Deliverance Dept., until we get ourselves more focused in on the whole picture before us, not merely one piece of it.

Emily Windsor

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