Sunday, March 8, 2015

How close will you follow?

This question comes to me as I look at the text for today.  It is Jesus "cleansing" the temple as recorded in the gospel of John.  You could say that he makes a spectacle of himself with a whip of cords driving  our the animals, pouring out the coins of the money changers and overturning tables.  There are enough details to see that it was something memorable.

And again, I have preached on this quite a bit.  The emphasis on animal sacrifice made worship more readily available to those who could afford the animals.  It was another barrier.  And then people came and started to make money off those who merely wanted to worship God.  And you can say that they lost sight of what it was all about to begin with.  And of course, this has been the challenge of church forever - all the ways we can create barriers to worship and make it safe and comfortable only for some.  And the ways we lose sight of the spiritual reality and focus on the material.  Even as I write this I want to write "blah, blah, blah." 

What I remember, however, is the Jesus does not then walk away from the temple.  He continues to teach and preach in the temple.  That is important for all people who want to follow that "spiritual but not religious" path.  I continue to believe that we need a framework and our sacred traditions which can help us to continue to connect to the Holy One. 

But most interesting to me this morning is just thinking about how it must have been to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.  Because he was so unpredictable.  He calls them, teaches, and shows signs and wonders that point beyond himself to God.  And he has this courage to confront what needs to be faced and to respond in the moment. 

Many years ago I went to a series of lectures by the noted theologian and writer Huston Smith about good and evil.  He has written extensively about world religions.  When I heard him speak he was in his 80's I think.  And when asked if would be continuing his work  he said that now he was going to concentrate on his faith - Christianity and continue to learn about who Jesus is.

That is what came up in me this morning as I read this familiar and hard to understand text.  Eugene Peterson writes: "There are no experts in the company of Jesus.  We are all beginners, necessarily followers, because we don't know where we are going."  And I would say - that if we are following Him - we don't know where he is going.  

And so today I begin again.  Following .......

I end with a prayer by Ted Loder

Help us to believe in beginnings, O God, 
to make a beginning,
 to be a beginning, so that we may not just grow old,
 but grow new each day
 of this wild, amazing life you call us to live
 with the passion of Jesus Christ,
 in whose name we pray.  Amen

1 comment:

Debbie said...

This is the offering that speaks deepest to me this morning, Margot, as I read your spirit words...

"And I would say - that if we are following Him - we don't know where he is going." ....the mystery of staying (easy and hard)