Friday, January 17, 2014

crabby love.

I love crabby, angry Jesus. It good to be reminded that God's relationship with us is really hard for God, too. We can be frustrating and dopey. God can be impatient and jealous. What a complicated, totally common thing we've got going on here between heaven and earth - it's raw and dicey and holy just like so many of our human relationships.

This Sunday's text is Jesus Cleansing the Temple in John's Gospel. John puts this story right after the Wedding at Cana. Joyful celebration turns to sorrowful anger in a hurry. As God's people congregate in Jerusalem for the Passover celebration, they are focused on the transactional rituals of the season - the buying and selling and bringing and bartering of this holy time. (Sounds like a few Christian holidays these days, right?)

Jesus enters the temple prepared for the relational rituals - prayer, breaking bread, hearing the Word, being made new. But the transactional is so much louder and more urgent. It is a physical and spiritual barrier to the good things the temple has promised for so many years:

a place for God's holy name to dwell

a place that blesses and renews

a place that calls us to divine holiness

a place where heaven and earth meet

Jesus takes one look at the moneychangers and sacrifices available for purchase, then flies off the handle. He will not put up with this crap. I don't know that I've ever been mad enough to actually make a whip out of cords, but Jesus finds that rage early on in John's gospel and gets to work chasing out everything that distracts from the relational.

And then all that anger turns into a great promise.

There will be another temple,
     but relational: broken and rebuilt.
There will be sacrifice,
     but not yours.
There will be transaction,
     but what you bring are empty hands and hungry hearts.
There will be dwelling,
     but it will be made of flesh instead of stone.
There will be blessing,
     but it will not be earned.
There will be holiness,
     but it is not calculated in doves and sheep.

Jesus promises his body and blood so early in this gospel.
Despite all fury and frustration, there is deep love and true sacrifice.

It comes all the way to us and then that flesh gets inside our flesh,
tangled up in grace - raw, dicey, holy grace that makes us new.

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