Archive for March 11th, 2012

JUMC 20120311:1100 John 2:13-22 People of the Reconstruction

13 The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. 15Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” 18 The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?”21 But he was speaking of the temple of his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken. -NRSV

It is remarkable to watch the controlled imploding of a building. It generally takes great experience, weeks of planning, days of securing mountains of permits, hours of installing and re-checking the precision of just a few seconds of destruction.

I don’t know about you, but it is difficult for me not to replay the images of the twin towers in New York on September 11, 2001 when I picture the great building collapsing. So it would have been un-imaginable to have heard Jesus’ request to the religious leaders to call for the Temple, the holy dwelling place, to be destroyed. And on the other hand, in the same breath, to claim that Jesus could rebuild what had taken generations to build King Herod’s building project. And most especially to rebuild in three days.

As people of the Resurrection, people who know the Easter story and know Jesus living in our hearts, it is easy for us to say: “Sure, He was talking about something spiritual.” Or, “We know Jesus could do it, he is the Messiah, he is the Son, He is Lord of heaven and hearth.” “God speaks and out of chaos comes order and creation.”

But it would do us well to hear the perspective of those who were thinking of the building: the stones, the heritage and the structure. It is amazing to see the size of the stones at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. The lower courses are the foundation of the original temple built during King Solomon’s reign,

Yes the pyramids and Babylon Gardens and the Alexandrian Light House or Greek temples were unbelievable building projects, but to see the stones and feel their mass of the Temple Wall….it appear impossible to think the foundations couple be leveled. And yet, in the the life time of some of those who heard Jesus speak these very words, lived to see the temple destroyed and leveled.

Jesus not only tells of his personal work, as we are the body of Christ, raised from and saved from death, it is our work to rebuild, to re-construct the spiritual temple of which Jesus gives witness.

How many generations and decades and lives have been devoted to building cathedrals, temples, and palaces that point to places of authority and power.

The Mall in Washington, DC is a magnificent microcosm of colossal structures in our time and in our nation. These monuments are tributes and places for the people to rally, remember and raise up the nations pride and call.

This very sanctuary has been designed, built, purchase, maintained and used by generations of faith witness for this community. What if someone claimed were to tear it down and rebuild it. (I’m sure that on some level the Trustees might consider this a plausible thought when trying to maintain and provide for the current and future needs) While the building helps us have a place to gather for fellowship, worship, study, service and giving… this building is not our true home.

Just as the early tents, are not our home. Frail and fragile, hungry and different, sometimes awkward and other times graceful… our home is eternal in God, through Christ, as we are people of the Spirit.

That brings us back to the text: This building is not our faith. These bodies are not our strength. Our body is Christ’s body and we are the structure giving witness to the world….

Which brings us to the drama of the passage from John’s Gospel: The cleansing of the temple. Some is a physcal washing, moving our and tearing down…FOR the PURPOSE of RESTORING

Some is a cleaning of the space between our temples: our minds… Remember this our God’s dwelling place, in us, in our body, in our witness, in our words and actions, in our forgiveness and grace.

The Reclaiming, cleansing work to Restore LIfe back into relationship with God.

This why we have a body

This is why we have this life.

Not just for ourselves, but also for Christ to continue to be present in the world, building of the whole people.

If you see or hear, profanity, clean it up

If you see or hear injustice, clean it out

If you are plagues with worry, guild, gossip, greed or fear… let it go

If you are trying to buy your way through something that is freely given.. start over.

One of the movies that I can pretty much quote every line through out the file is the BLUES BROTHERS,

There is a moment where the blues review band stops to play Bob’s country music palace and the character, Jake asks what kind of music the customers like, the Co-Owner replies: “Both kind, County and Western.” To which the finally connect with the audience when the band places, “Rawhide” TV theme song, complete with a snapping whip.

Jesus, connects with us, even it take drive out and cleaning out the mess that we make worship and church.

This scene calls us to claim the work of RECONSTRUCTION and build up the body of Christ.

God make room for the Work God is about to do, the harvest that is coming and the life that is about to be set free.

Praise the Lord.

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JUMC 20120311:0900 Exodus 20:1-17 “The” Top Ten List

 Then God spoke all these words: 2 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; 3 you shall have no other gods before me. 4 You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, 6 but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments. 7 You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name. 8Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work. 10But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it. 12 Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. 13 You shall not murder. 14 You shall not commit adultery. 15 You shall not steal. 16 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. 17 You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor. -NRSV

While it has become such a part of our language to have a Top Ten list, it was comedian David Letterman on the Late-Night program that has made famous the count-down list we know and love. On Tuesday, August 31, 1993 David ran through a the Top Ten Things We Like About CBS. This list was most a collection of inside jokes but it began a count-down phenomenon.

I would suggest that Dave’s writers drew on a much older tradition for coming up with an authoritative and definitive list of ten from THE ORIGINAL top 10 list. The list we find in in the Old Testament, given from God to Moses to be taught, memorized and even worn on the hearts and minds of God’s people.

  • 1. You shall have no other gods before me.
  • 2. You shall not make for yourself an idol,
  • 3. You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God
  • 4. Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. 
  • 5. Honor your father and your mother..
  • 6 . You shall not murder.
  • 7. You shall not commit adultery.
  • 8. You shall not steal. 
  • 9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. 
  • 10. You shall not covet..

While they are ten, they are not a count down to the most important. They start with the most important and fall into three groups or categories:

Our Relationship with God

  • 1. You shall have no other gods before me.
  • 2. You shall not make for yourself an idol,
  • 3. You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God
  • 4. Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy.

Our Relationship with Family

  • 5. Honor your father and your mother..
  • 7. You shall not commit adultery.

Our Relationship with the rest of the community

  • 6 . You shall not murder.
  • 8. You shall not steal. 
  • 9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. 
  • 10. You shall not covet..

Look at the list in reverse:

  • If you are happy with what you have, (wether you have or dont have much)
  • If you don’t lie, steal or murder,
  • If you faithful in marriage and respect your parents and elders,
  • If you go to church every week, and don’t make any “thing” the object of your worship, your security, hope or love…
  • We can miss the whole can of cheese, if we skip Putting God First..

What does that mean for us?

The 10 Commandment List is the boundary, guide that is at the core of all our relationships:

We are given this list because we are blessed. Because God want su to know the way home.

I know I’m not perfect, but the one who made me and loves me

from the first days in the Garden through today and tomorrow, asks one thing..

Love me first, Love me best. Trust me now, ahead of the rest.

When its easy, When I don’t know how, Do it all, because we’re blessed.

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