News, Connections and Photos from the life of the faith community at CAPC Oakland
The gospel of John one of the four stories of the good news of Jesus (Gospel means good news) which tells his life, actions, words and mission. It’s believed that John’s account is the last one written as his retelling of the story reflects considerable theological reflection and uses metaphors and poetic language. One example is the play with light and darkness throughout the story. John’s account also contains only seven miracles – or signs as they’re called. A symbolic number in Jewish tradition that represents the divine and also recall the days of creation in the foundational story of Genesis.
Last week (in John 2:1-12) we read of the first of these signs – water being turned into wine at a wedding to keep the party going. Seemingly trite a richly metaphorical statement about God being actively and creatively present in the world, inviting us into an ongoing process – or conversation – of creation.
Here we see Jesus flabbergasted at the profane and unjust business he sees transpiring at the Temple. Where all should be able to mix and mingle as they come to talk with God (worship) at the Temple, he sees what we might describe as a mini-mall atmosphere of hawking wares and swindling deals. We might argue that animals were needed for sacrifices – the way in which God was worship according to the Hebrew Scriptures. The merchants and money-changers are just doing what they should, providing a much-needed service to those coming to the Temple to seek God. Shouldn’t they make a living off their work? At same time, Jesus seems to be saying that the Temple should look different than the rest of the world, then a normal market place. For the Temple was thought of as the place where heaven (the realm of God) and earth (the realm of humanity) met and intersected. It’s not just any house. It’s God’s House.
In her book The Great Emergence, Phyllis Tickle argues that Christianity is currently undergoing a massive upheaval as part of a regular pattern that occurs every 500 years, in which old ideas are rejected and new ones emerge. We see that the forms of stability in our culture and society aren’t able to provide the same authoritative stability that they used to. Think of how few people now interact with church communities, or are even literate in terms of the Christian story. Think of the division over our government – national, state and local. In the first century of our era we know the Israelites were also in a time of great transition, adapting to rule under the Roman Empire and the large economic inequality in their society. Rather than remaining silent about this, Jesus seems to speak prophetically with his actions. What might that imply for us in our situation today?
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION & EXAMEN:
• What engaged you, enraged you, or surprised you in the text?
• How do you think those people selling the animals reacted to Jesus? How about the money changers? Imagine the people who had come to the Temple to make sacrifices and prayers to God….how might they have responded to Jesus’ actions and words?
• Why do you think Jesus was really so indignant and irritated?
• What invitation do you hear the Spirit of God speaking to you – or to us, as a church – to act, speak, be or change through this word of scripture?