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In The Wrong Temple
April 22, 2019, 1:00 PM

In The Wrong Temple

by Walter Brueggemann


Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking of the temple of his body. - John 2:19-21

The Gospel of John likes to play tricks. For temple, think Jesus. For destroyed temple, think Friday crucifixion. For rebuilt temple, think Easter resurrection. So think of temple as the symbolic center of your life, as the place where you are met by the goodness an holiness of God, where you draw fresh on the core purpose of your life, where you get some clarity about who you are and what your life amounts to and how you will be remembered. And then think of duties and disciplines that belong to becoming fully whom you are called by God to be. And then imagine, what if we are in the wrong temple, imagining our life in misguided ways and committed in the wrong directions? What if we are thinking temple mall, theater, market, indulgence, when we should be thinking about Jesus and death and obedience and suffering and new life and joy? In the wrong temple! The one where he came to clean things out and upset tables with a passion that seemed like violence: there is business and busyness and selling and trading and hoping to get ahead and buying access to God in the way you can buy it at the White House or in Congress, going there to be seen and valued and reassured. And then there is a sign, a deep gesture, a disturbance, an invitation that says, “You have got the wrong holy place, for the presence of God is not there.” The news is that this temple called Jesus is our true habitat. That is where we are bound in faith to live our life and put our buckets down and dream our dreams and claim our identities. Most of us, most of the time, find ourselves in the wrong temple, places that make promises of safety that leaves us more anxious, offers of joy that leaves us disconsolate. Partly we are in the wrong place by will, partly by habit, partly be accident, partly seduced. Our work in Lent is to move from these fake temples to the true temple who is Jesus. And then to receive a different life, the life he lives, the one to which we are invited. (A Way other than Our Own by Walter Brueggemann, 2017, Published by Westminster John Knox Press)


I offer the above Palm Sunday meditation read one day before the Notre Dame fire and destruction caused to the Cathedral, we cannot but grieve for the Church and for France. A week or so earlier there were also three historically black churches destroyed by fire in Louisiana. There has been an outpouring of donations to these as well. The meditation above is a reminder of the bodily aspect of Christ resurrection and hope that is for all who suffer in our world today.

Pastor Don Dunn


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