THURSDAY, APRIL 7TH
A TIME OF SHARED STRUGGLE
When we meet with Jesus today, he first shares a little background information. In the story we now remember on Palm Sunday, Jesus had just entered Jerusalem on a donkey with the crowds gathered around him – shouting their praises, honoring him, and claiming him as their prophet and messiah. Imagine their surprise as Jesus begins telling us what happened next:
Then I entered the temple and drove out all who were selling and buying in the temple, and I overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. I said to them, “It is written,
‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’;
but you are making it a den of robbers.”
(Matthew 21:12-13, NRSV, revised*)
In these quiet moments, place yourself inside the temple. As you see Jesus turning over the tables and seats, what would be your reaction? Would you be shocked? Would you be grateful? Would you stay to see what he does next, or would you run? Would you be surprised that Jesus could become angry? What might Jesus be revealing to you in this story?
The money changers and dove sellers were not there to help people worship God, but to make a profit. The temple had become a place where the people were cheated, the poor were exploited, and worship was restricted to those who could afford the monetary exchanges and purchases. We can imagine how frustrated and angry Jesus could have been, that a place intended for prayer and worship had become a place that hurt and cheated people.
Where would Jesus find fault with our religions and churches today? I have been learning about the ways in which various evolutions of Christianity and religious hierarchies have often forgotten the purposes of Christ and forged their own. One could write many posts about these issues. But I believe that real change always begins with us as individuals, so I generally try to scrutinize and critique myself first.
Which tables in my life would Jesus want to turn – or even turn over? What changes can I make, what better ways will I find to share God’s love, and to help people to know, thank, and worship God, too?
According to www.theidioms.com, the meaning of the phrase, turn the tables includes “change your position with respect to someone else” and “turn an unfavorable circumstance into one of favor.”
I easily recognize some table turning I can do. As Christ’s representative, I can change my position with respect to others by doing more reaching out along with welcoming in. I can refrain from judging but also begin uplifting and encouraging. I can expand my prayers of concern for our world and people into actual advocacy and support. Unlike the money changers and dove sellers, I can provide helpful service without considering any potential benefit for me. I can humbly try to carry the spirit and posture of a servant as I walk this life with others.
How might I turn an unfavorable circumstance into one of favor? I can try to find and foster any good, healing, and beneficial outcomes from trying times or terrible circumstances. I can regard the sadness and tragedies of the world as an invitation to help where I can, to live differently, to work for the betterment of all people. Instead of lingering in self-pity, I can regard my own difficulties as opportunities to gain wisdom, strengthen my trust in God, open my awareness of the need for change, and feel the comfort and healing of God’s ever-present care.
I can cling to the God of all hope and peace, the One who can turn every table, the One who can make all things new…
the God we all are meant to worship together in love.
*The name of Jesus and his pronouns have been adapted by Karen into first-person.