Bright Stars of Bethlehem Lenten Reflections
To help enrich our season of Lent, Bright Stars of Bethlehem is offering eight reflections
(Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday) written by Bright Stars of Bethlehem Representatives
and staff members.
Scripture: John 2:13-25
The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making 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. He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking of the temple of his body. 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.
When he was in Jerusalem during the Passover festival, many believed in his name because they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part would not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to testify about anyone; for he himself knew what was in everyone.
The Temple stood at the heart of Jerusalem, the “crown-jewel” of the Jewish faith, a glorious structure around which an entire social, political, ethical, and religious system was based. It provided the security, the certainty of the presence and providence of God. And as John’s Gospel was written, that very Temple, and much of Jerusalem itself, had already been in rubble for 30 years, and Rome’s occupation tightened its stranglehold in the region.
In 2009, American financial markets are tanking, banks are closing, retirement savings and 401(k)’s are shrinking, many having been lost, unemployment is at decades-old high, and confidence in systems previously thought untouchable and unshakeable is at an all-time low. The center does not hold, and all things fall apart.
To where can a distraught and despairing world look, as confidence crumbles and as former securities wane?
In this Gospel, Jesus himself gives the answer. He points not to human structures, not the political nor social structures, not the market, not even to the Temple nor the structures of religion, but to himself. “He was speaking of the Temple of his body,” John says, and only after his resurrection did his disciples remember, and then believe. An Easter Jesus casts light into a Lenten world.
Easter takes sides. Love takes sides – because Christ takes sides against the powers of darkness.
There is no way to preach the gospel of life in the world without upsetting the powers that profit from death. We preach an Easter gospel of life.
There is no way to preach the gospel of healing in the world without upsetting the powers that profit from the sicknesses of our age, those forces in the culture that destroy families and communities, that profit in seeing the stranger as a danger and dividing Americans from each other and America from the rest of the global community. We preach an Easter gospel of healing.
There is no way to preach the gospel of peace in the world without upsetting the powers that benefit from holding the world hostage to fear – someday we must talk about the purveyors on the Left and on the Right of the politics and theologies of fear. We preach an Easter gospel of peace.
There is no way to preach the gospel of truth in the world without upsetting the powers that benefit from keeping us in the dark, that undermine civil discourse, that reinforce our deepest fears with mechanisms of denial, that manipulate lies that keep from taking responsibility for our lives, our country, our planet. We preach an Easter gospel of truth.
And there is no way to preach the gospel of freedom in a world without upsetting the powers that profit from keeping you in chains. We preach an Easter gospel of freedom.
Dr. Michael Spath
Plymouth United Church of Christ, Fort Wayne, IN
Director, Indiana Center for Middle East Peace
To help enrich our season of Lent, Bright Stars of Bethlehem is offering eight reflections (Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday) written by Bright Stars of Bethlehem Representatives
and staff members. You are receiving this reflection as a friend of Bright Stars of Bethlehem.
Click here for more information on the work of Bright Stars of Bethlehem.
Scripture selections are taken from The Revised Common Lectionary, Year B.
Gospel text is from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV.)