Posted by: jblevins | March 15, 2009

Third Sunday of Lent

This year, we invite you to include as part of your Lenten practices to consider your impact upon God’s Creation – and what steps you can take in your own life to bring yourself back into relationship with it. Each Sunday, we will send an email including the lectionary text for that week, a brief reflection, some study questions, and then daily actions.

Henry Nouwen writes, “In the midst of a turbulent, often chaotic, life we are called to reach out with courageous honesty to our innermost self, with restless care to our fellow human beings, and with increasing prayer to our God. To do that, however, we must face and explore our inner restlessness, our mixed feelings toward others, and our deep-seated suspicions about the absence of God.” It is this journey that Lent is all about, and this year, we invite you to join us in it.

Click here to download our reflection for the third Sunday in Lent in PDF form.

Lectionary Text: John 2:13-22 (NRSV)

The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14In 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. 16He told those who were selling the doves, ‘Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a market-place!’ 17His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’ 18The Jews then said to him, ‘What sign can you show us for doing this?’ 19Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ 20The Jews then said, ‘This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?’ 21But he was speaking of the temple of his body. 22After 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.

Other Lectionary Readings: Exodus 20:1-17; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25


The money-changers in the temple. Often, when confronted with this text, it comes along with a message of keeping the church pure – of keeping unclean things out of the church – the building and its people. But this week I want us to challenge our perception of what Jesus is referring to when he says, “Stop making my Father’s house a market-place!”, especially in light of his conclusion that the temple of which he was speaking was not the building, but his own body.

For is not the entire created world the House of God? Does not God live, move, and breathe in everything God created? Standing on the top of a mountain, looking out at a beautiful valley – you are standing in the House of God. Standing on the edge of the beach, watching the sun slowly set over the waters – you are standing in the House of God. Because you see, in the cleansing of the temple, of God’s house, Jesus was no more simply referring to that physical space than he was when he spoke of rebuilding it in 3 days.

So what does it mean to cleanse the world then? This is the challenge for us this week – when we think of the cleansing that needs to go on, yes, we need to think about this in our own lives, in our own churches. But also in all our world. With all the decisions we make and actions we take. With the decisions we ask our policymakers to make. When we make personal decisions about our homes, our personal habits – are we considering their impact on God’s House? When we organize our worship, build our church buildings – what understanding of God’s House are we living out? When we consider our land, endangered species, climate legislation –are we taking care to cleanse God’s house? Or are the money-changers still in the temple?

Guiding Questions

1. Looking out at our world today, what kind of cleansing needs to take place? What would it look like to throw the money changers out of God’s House?

2. Our epistle this morning challenges worldly concepts of wisdom, and definitions of what is possible. If we believe in a God who created out of nothing, a God who raises from the dead, and a God who re-creates everyday – what does this say to the world about what is possible in terms of renewing our planet?

Daily Actions

Sunday, March 15thSpend some time in reflection with the passages above, and the reflections. Center yourself for the Lenten journey.

Monday, March 16thToday, the Senate will vote to protect millions of acres of God’s Creation. Click here to tell your Senators of the importance of treating the land as the House of God, and the importance of protecting and caring for that house.

Tuesday, March 17thThis week is End Mountaintop Removal Week in Washington DC, and hundreds of people from across the country are coming to call on Congress to put an end to this method of mining that destroys so much of God’s Creation. This year, the week is focused on the recently introduced Clean Water Protection Act, HR 1310. Today is a National Call in Day to support the folks in DC. Call your House Representative at 202-224-3121, or click here to send them an email.

Wednesday, March 18thThis Sunday is World Water Sunday. Click here for a worship and education resource to consider the waters of the world as part of God’s temple, too.

Thursday, March 19th Return to the lectionary texts for this week. What new emerges from a second reading of them? Try reading them with a group, seeing what new insights come forth.

Friday, March 20th The products we use in our home are also reflections of what we consider to be a temple – and they are often toxic. Last Thursday the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics released No More Toxic Tub. the first report of its kind to find formaldehyde and 1,4 dioxane contamination in a wide variety of children’s personal care products ranging from bubble bath to lotion to shampoo and hair relaxers. Click here to read the report, and consider the products you use.

Saturday, March 21st Help your church better reflect its place in the House of God, by reducing the amount of carbon it produces. Click here to take part in our Carbon Reduction Campaign – and win prizes!


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