Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Cleaning Up

And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read,“‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies
you have prepared praise’?” And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there. In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once. When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” Matthew 21:12-22

The pictures and videos from Black Friday shopping incidents are both comical and frightening. Folks desperate to get a deal on Christmas gifts fighting and crushing others in stampede like fashion. The competitive consumer face of the holidays is down right upsetting to me, and I wonder if Jesus wouldn't be turning other tables if he came for a visit today.

Jesus, in a rare moment of fury, topples the tables of the market place in the temple. Children came and honored him but the religious leaders wanted him gone. He healed the blind and the lame but nothing was good enough after he undid their business as usual set-up. While all of our local churches are hosting bazaars as fundraisers, I can help but imagine what challenges Jesus might have for all of us today. We are invited by God to get rid of the clutter, the anxiety, the buying and selling in order to welcome the real love of God into our lives. And yet, do we fear real love so much, and God's presence and power, that we will do everything we can to tart up our houses and our lives so we can't be found?

Today, as we journey deeper into Advent, I ask God to help me keep focused on preparation and self-examination. I want to do everything I can to welcome the blessed child of God, the incarnate love that changed everything forever. May we all be strengthened to set aside our competitive urges and seek the tenderness and quiet of the nursery, the simple stable and the extraordinarily meek places where God is found.

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