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Love and Anger

July 31, 2011

Barb’s message for street church this Sunday was on Jesus cleansing the temple. This has always been a favourite of mine, not so much for the story or the message behind it, but for the picture of Jesus it evokes.  I never could stomach the domesticated milquetoast depiction of “gentle Jesus meek and mild.”  Jesus was a passionate, bold and courageous revolutionary who came to overturn virtually everything.  His message was subversive.  That’s why they killed him.

As I read the story in all four gospels this morning, it occurred to me that as with many Bible passages, there are a number of layers to that story.  The most obvious is that Jesus was driving out those who were abusing a place of worship by taking advantage of those who came to the temple to offer sacrifice.  Another layer is that Jesus was signalling the end of one form of worship and the advent of a new way of relating to God.  The message in the Psalms and the prophets is starkly clear:  it is not sacrifice that God wants.  Jesus had come to be the ultimate and all-sufficient sacrifice for all.  But digging deeper into this one finds something else, something that God has written on my heart.

Matthew, Mark and Luke all have Jesus saying, “It is written, ‘And my house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘robbers’ den.'”  The scriptures Jesus is referring to here are Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11.  If we look to Isaiah 56 we find God is talking about making worship in His house accessible to all who come to Him.  In Jeremiah 7, God links worship and social justice.  These are frequent Biblical themes.

When I found this and as I read it, it expressed some of what is in my heart.  Perhaps it may touch your heart as well.


Inspired by love and anger, disturbed by need and pain,
Informed of God’s own bias we ask him once again:
“How long must some folk suffer? How long can few folk mind?
How long dare vain self interest turn prayer and pity blind?”

From those forever victims of heartless human greed,
Their cruel plight composes a litany of need:
“Where are the fruits of justice? Where are the signs of peace?
When is the day when prisoners and dreams find their release?”

From those forever shackled to what their wealth can buy,
The fear of lost advantage provokes the bitter cry,
“Don’t query our position! Don’t criticise our wealth!
Don’t mention those exploited by politics and stealth!”

To God, who through the prophets proclaimed a different age,
We offer earth’s indifference, its agony and rage:
“When will the wronged be righted? When will the kingdom come?
When will the world be generous to all instead of some?”

God asks, “Who will go for me? Who will extend my reach?
And who, when few will listen, will prophecy and preach?
And who, when few bid welcome, will offer all they know?
And who, when few dare follow, will walk the road I show?”

Amused in someone’s kitchen, asleep in someone’s boat,
Attuned to what the ancients exposed, proclaimed and wrote,
A saviour without safety, a tradesman without tools
Has come to tip the balance with fishermen and fools.

To those who believe God’s justice is for the world to come I say with Jesus, “The kingdom of God is at hand.”

He has told you, O man, what is good;

And what does the LORD require of you

But to do justice, to love kindness,

And to walk humbly with your God?

                                                  Micah 6:8

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