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    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 2, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…
    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 9, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…
    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 16, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…

Lent 3B RCL March 4, 2018

Exodus 20:1-17
Psalm 19
1 Corinthians 1:18-25
John 2:13-22

This is the Third Sunday in Lent, and our readings give us so much food for thought that we could go on for hours thinking about these words and how they apply to our lives. I’m happy to tell you that I am not going to preach for hours.

In our opening reading from the Book of Exodus, Moses brings the Ten Commandments to God’s people, who have escaped slavery and are on their journey to the promised land. Scholars tell us that this was really a worship service, a solemn ceremony in which the people accepted God’s covenant.

These commandments provided an ethical structure for God’s people, and they still do that for us. If we were to summarize these rules for living, we could say, 1). There is one God. 2).Don’t worship idols, These days, our idols are not Baal or Astarte. They are things like status, possessions, and power, but they can lure us far from what really matters. 3). Use the Name of God only in sincere prayer. Use the Name of God for good purposes. 4). Take time to rest and be with God on the Sabbath Day. These first four commandments are about our relationship with God.

The next six commandments are about our relationship with our family and others. 5) Honor your father and mother. Family is important, and those relationships are very special. Let us put God’s love in the spaces between us and our family members. 6). Don’t commit murder. That includes the kind of murder we can commit with our tongue, with a nasty comment or with malicious gossip, or posts, or tweets. 7). Don’t commit adultery. We are called to be faithful to our marriages and committed relationships and to honor the marriages and committed relationships of others. 8). Don’t steal. That includes other people’s ideas. We give credit for the thoughts of others which we quote. We pay royalties when they apply. We honor copyrights. 9). Don’t lie. As we look at the world around us, it would be so refreshing if we would all simply be honest in all our statements and in all our dealings with each other. 10). Don’t covet. In our society today, there is such a pressure to keep up with the Joneses, to have the right clothes, the right car, and on and on. That is not what is important to God. These commandments are as helpful and relevant today as they were over three thousand years ago when God first gave them to our ancestors.

As we think about our gospel for today, we need to keep in mind that Jesus knew these commandments very well, and it is because of his knowledge of what God is truly calling us to be and to do that he is as angry as we will ever see him when he looks over the travesty of the moneychangers in the temple.

I can still remember the tone of my beloved mentor, David Brown, when he was Rector of Christ Church, Montpelier. He talked about the cult of “Gentle Jesus, meek and mild” syrupy terms that were almost funny, except that this is such a serious issue. Jesus was not always meek and mild. He had a steely determination; he had fortitude and courage like no other. And in today’s gospel, he is enraged. He is angry beyond belief.

Why is he angry? It is the time of the Passover. At the Passover, everyone was supposed to offer a sacrifice at the temple. If you were rich, you would offer a lamb. If you were poor, you would offer something cheaper such as a dove. So, first of all, this offering was a burden on the poor. They had no money to spare for buying a dove to sacrifice. They were trying to feed their children.

But it gets worse. In order to buy these animals for sacrifice, you had to convert your Roman coins to the temple coinage. To do this, you had to go to the moneychangers. Scholars tell us that the moneychangers could charge any kind of fee they wanted to for this service. This placed a double burden on the poor.

So, when Jesus walked in to this place that was supposed to be a holy place, this place where people were supposed to be able to have an encounter with God and “worship God in the beauty of holiness,” he saw these moneychangers robbing the people, and he got so angry that he threw over their tables. If we had been there, we would have been deeply impressed by his attitude. Possibly, we would have been scared.

The temple officials challenged Jesus on his behavior, and he made a rather mysterious statement, “Destroy this temple, and in three days, I will raise it up.” He was talking about his body, because he knew that they were going to have him killed.

Jesus was angry because the religious leaders were putting barriers in the way of people who were trying to worship God, people who were trying to be faithful. These barriers were a great hardship especially for the poor. We need to remember that Jesus was the champion of the ordinary people. Like so many of our brothers and sisters today, they had to work night and day just to provide the necessities for their children. The religious leaders should have made it easier for them to worship, not harder. But they refused to hear what our Lord was saying. It is a tragic day when religious leaders cannot hear God’s truth being spoken to them.

Our Lord is calling us to honor the dignity of every person and to make worship accessible to everyone. By the time of Jesus, legal and religious scholars had expanded the ten commandments to over six hundred and thirty rules that one was supposed to follow. This was so difficult that only the leisured class had the time to follow these rules.

This kind of thing made Jesus angry.

Here at Grace, this is why we stop and make sure that everyone has the books and handouts we need for the service, and why we help each other find our places. Accessibility is so important.

Gracious and loving God, give us grace to hear what you have to say to us. Jesus, our Savior and brother, lead us and guide us so that we may follow you faithfully. In Your holy Name we pray. Amen.

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