SPRING-CLEANING THE TEMPLE IN HOLY WEEK
PANDEMIC PRAYER AND REFLECTION FOR THE TUESDAY IN HOLY WEEK;
7th APRIL 2020
For all who have contracted coronavirus, We pray for care and healing.
For those who are particularly vulnerable, We pray for safety and protection.
For all who experience fear or anxiety, We pray for peace of mind and spirit.
For affected families who are facing difficult decisions
between food on the table or public safety, We pray for policies that recognize their plight.
For those who do not have adequate health insurance, We pray that no family will face financial burdens alone.
For those who are afraid to access care due to immigration status, We pray for recognition of the God-given dignity of all.
For our brothers and sisters around the world, We pray for shared solidarity.
For public officials and decisionmakers, We pray for wisdom and guidance.
Father, during this time may your Church be a sign of hope, comfort and love to all. Grant peace. Grant comfort. Grant healing. Be with us, Lord.
JOHN 2:13-16 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover,
Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves,
and others sitting at tables exchanging money.
So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts,
both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers
and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here!
Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!
The Feast of Passover is nearly upon us, and many Jewish families around the world are in the process of 'CLEANING OUT THE LEAVEN' from their homes.
There are many traditions associated with this particular season,
but the physical removal of yeast from homes is something taken seriously.
It is a family event, whereby the father takes a candle and searches through all the cupboards for crumbs, bits of bread or other yeast-based products, and carefully sweeps them into a bowl.
The family then take these remains and any other similar leftovers outside,
and burn them, symbolically cleansing their homes and their lives
as they enter into a week of 'leaven free living',
in memory of the first Passover, when God brought the Jewish people
out from slavery in Egypt.
But it goes further than that. Many Jewish families do a total 'spring clean'
for Passover, washing windows, bedding, scrubbing the 'hard to get to' places.
Some will even go so far as to buy new crockery and new clothes.
In Israel, bakeries close for the week and grocery retail outlets
even close off all their shelves containing any products that could contain yeast.
After Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, comes the account of the CLEANSING OF THE TEMPLE (placed at this time in Matthew, Mark and Luke,
but seen as an initial act of Jesus’ in John). In this incident, Jesus braided some rope together into a whip and started driving out all the merchants and money changers, rebuking them for making “HIS FATHER’S HOUSE” a market place.
This is not Sunday-School-meek-and-mild Jesus!
This is Jesus full of righteous indignation,
at practices which were not in keeping with true faithful living.
As a good, practising Jew, Jesus visited the Temple in Jerusalem several times, especially, we read, at Passover. Aged twelve, the just-about-to-become-a-teenager Jesus had a teen-strop with His Mother and Joseph,
chiding them for not expecting to find Him in His Father’s House (The Temple).
In John’s Gospel (chapter 2 verse 13) we read
"The Jewish Passover was near and Jesus went up to Jerusalem".
The time of Passover was coming, the time to clean the house of all the yeast/leaven, to have a fresh start and make everything new.
Jesus would have been familiar with this ritual.
Joseph as a good Jewish father would have inspected the Nazareth home,
and Mary would have gone over it with a fine tooth-comb,
ensuring that their house was cleansed of anything
that might have defiled the festival.
Jesus’ action makes sense that, at a time when families were cleaning their homes, preparing for a fresh clean start, Jesus understood that a spiritual cleansing of His Father's spiritual home was not only necessary, but that it was His familial duty to carry out.
Suddenly, His mission to drive out the merchants wasn't some arbitrary angry rampage that overwhelmed him, but an appointed act at an appointed time for an appointed purpose.
Time to clean!
In the midst of this Coronavirus pandemic, being scrupulously-clean is something we have had to take really seriously. Spiritually-speaking, this is a good season for us to take the opportunity to do some spring cleaning of our own spiritual lives,
to cleanse the temple of our hearts, minds and bodies, and to have a fresh clean start - an appointed act, at this appointed time, for an appointed purpose!
It is an appointed time to draw near to God during the Passover,
the time when He provided Jesus as the sacrificial lamb,
whose death brings us to life.
DEDICATING THE TEMPLE OF OUR HOME
We dedicate our home to you
and your work as the God of Peace. May it be a place of joy, laughter and freedom, A place of renewal and refreshment for those who are weary, A place of hope for those who have become disillusioned, A place of healing and comfort for those broken and hurt, A place of forgiveness for those who seek a new way of life, A place of encouragement for those who hunger and thirst for peace and justice, A place of vision and inspiration for all those who seek a new and better way (Dedication Prayer from the Corrymeela Community,
published in Human Rites: Worship Resources for an Age of Change
Be present, Spirit of God, within us,
your dwelling place and home,
that this house may be
one where all darkness is penetrated by your light;
all troubles calmed by your peace;
all evil redeemed by your love;
all pain transformed by your suffering;
and all dying glorified by your risen life.
Jim Cotter, published in “Human Rites:
Worship Resources for an Age of Change”