Monday, July 2, 2012

House of Prayer

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. Matthew 21:12-17

Yesterday was a hot one and even by the ocean it can be overwhelming. I had the privilege of celebrating two services at St. Peter-by-the-Sea here in Cape May Point. At the first service I asked for prayers for all of us who are attending General Convention and the work we have ahead of us. By the second service, during the prayers of the people, I found myself praying for my own survival, and not to be overcome by the heat. The beautiful little chapel is antique and sweet and does not have air conditioning. Sometimes we can pray for the universal church and sometimes we have to pray for our mere survival.

Jesus finds himself in the temple, frustrated by the market atmosphere, the necessities choking out the holy and universal atmosphere of prayer. The pilgrims who had come to the temple were sold appropriate sacrifices, and in so doing the reverence and humility, our true offering, were lost from that place. We are invited to remember, as we do the business of the church, wherever we are, that prayer, reverence and humility are the resting places of God. God hears and understands our prayers for survival and invites us to offer ourselves to God, trusting that all that we need and more will be supplied.

Today, as the heat continues and concerns for the people rise, I ask God to give us the strength to offer ourselves for the care and needs of others, not worrying about our needs, our platforms, or our issues, but rather, for the sake of the whole people and the whole church. May God find us gathered, humble and reverent, and in prayer constantly. May our lives be offered for others so that God can transform and use us all, dwelling with us now and forever.

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