For this sermon I wove a tapestry. See the picture at the end of the sermon.
I have here one thread, the thread uniting heaven and earth, the thread of love and relationship. Throughout time, God has been reaching out to communicate with and relate with human beings:
21 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,
God said let there be light,
Let the land be separated from the waters,
Let there be animals, fish, birds, cattle, creeping things
Let us make humankind in our image
Let us make a covenant never to again destroy the earth
Through Abraham, all the families of the earth will be blessed by God
God said, “Let my people go,”
God led the people through the sea and desert
God fed the people manna in the desert
God walked with the people in the desert as a pillar of fire
God spoke through the prophets
God came to us in human form
When God was working to connect heaven and earth, God had the bigger picture in mind of the world, the universe, the Kingdom God was trying to create. God gave us commandments to help us work well together, but God doesn’t control us. We decide how to relate to each other. This pile of rags represents all our relationships with each other.
We are fruitful and multiply
We have strong feelings toward each other sometimes
We build up our communities
We form congregations
We relate to the earth
We volunteer and help each other
We are generous and giving
We honor father and mother
We honor life and do not take it
We honor our relationships and are faithful
We do not take what does not belong to us
We tell the truth
We interpret one another’s actions in the best possible light
We are content with what we have
So you see this tapestry taking shape, the interrelatedness of God’s world, messy, but balanced and with a certain kind of beauty. And I’ll add two more of the vertical pieces, the connections between heaven and earth, the commandments, You shall have no other gods, and You shall not make wrongful use of God’s name, say that God said anything that God didn’t or hurt or deceive someone using God’s name.
And finally, in the middle, the central commandment, remember the sabbath day to keep it Holy. A way of honoring God, by setting aside a day to pray and remember who provides for us every good thing, a way of relating to ourselves, in that we have a day to just be, a day not defined by what we do or what we consume, but a day of rest, and a way of relating to our neighbor, or children, or the help, or the immigrant, or the grocer or anyone, since our actions won’t make them work either.
So you can see why Jesus flew off the handle in the Gospel today. God had been weaving this tapestry, connecting all things and people, and someone was trying to sell this tapestry, to make money, to cheat poor people, in God’s house. It was an accepted practice to defraud people right under God’s nose, mere feet from the Holy of Holies where the ark of the covenant rested, from the mercy seat where heaven and earth touch each other. Jesus is upset, angry. But he’s angry because of zeal, passion, love. His love for God’s vision makes him disgusted at this vision in the Gospel, so he sends the tables crashing to the floor, the sheep and goats running for the door, the money skittering across the floor into a jumbled mess, the money changers disrupted, and the people being cheated, maybe they were grateful, but probably they were buying into this system, they were probably upset, too.
If Jesus walked in her right now, what would he most appreciate as adding to the tapestry of God’s vision at King of Kings?
What might Jesus be upset about? What tables in our church might Jesus be pushing over for us today?
Lack of diversity
Exclusivity of English language
Over-reliance on words
Hearts not in it
Expecting people to come to us
Lack of honesty about what is troubling us
So no we decide, do we just pick up the pieces of what Jesus destroyed and set up shop once more, or do we decide to do things in a different way and take hold of the vision, the tapestry that God is weaving, submit to God’s laws connecting us with heaven and each other, and which tell us the truth about who we are and who God is.