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Jn 2:13-22 · 1Co 1:18-25 · Ex 20:1-17 · Ps 19
This Week's Sermons

Clean House
John 2:13-22

The portrait of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Gospel appointed for this day has proven to be something of a conundrum for interpreters through the years. What we see is the Lord Jesus in a violent rage driving animals and people out of the Temple. Years ago Bruce Barton, in a very popular book, The Man Nobody Knows, used the story to demonstrate how virile the Lord Jesus was. He surmised that the Lord Jesus was capable of Herculean strength and prowess because of his outdoorsy lifestyle and vigorous walking missionary tours. However, others have been concerned that this public demonstration which had all the earmarks of a near riot was most unbecoming of the normal life style of Jesus. Also, if this were a pique of temper, could not someone accuse Jesus of being guilty of a sin which all of us dislike very much?

Then, of course, there is the additional problem of finding this story in the beginning of the Fourth Gospel, whereas the other evangelists place it in Holy Week at the beginning of his passion. Could it be true that Jesus cleansed the Temple twice? Is John right and the others wrong? Or is it the other way around? Or could there be another reason why John places the story where he does? There is good reason to think that it is the latter. The story of Jesus cleansing the Temple helps us to understand several very important aspects of the church and its worship.
  1. The Context and the Importance of the Temple
  2. The Shock of Challenging an Old System
  3. The Body of the Church and the Sacramental Body
  4. Our Worship in the Spirit of the Lord
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Leonard Sweet's Sermon

The Outlandishness of Lent
1 Corinthians 1:18-25

Lent is a solemn season in the Church calendar. Supposedly, it's not meant to be fun, but rueful. It is a penitential time when devout Christians have typically “given up” some earthly pleasures — meats, sweets, parties, television, movies — to focus instead on spiritual growth — Lenten Bible studies, prayer groups, singular meditation-time. In the words of Lord Williams of Oystermouth, from a 2012 sermon in Rome at St. Paul's Within the Walls, "Every Lent, we ought to be looking at the various ways in which we get involved in manufacturing the gods that suit us. Every Lent is a time to get that little bit further beyond the idolatry that constantly keeps us prisoner and draws us back to the old world. When Jesus has cleared out the temple, when he has thrown out those people involved in manufacturing religion, there he stands with his friends in a great silence and a great space."

But this week's epistle text from Corinthians finds us reading about a topsy-turvy world, a ditzy divine scenario, which suggests the Lenten season is the time when Christians should be preparing themselves not to go all centered and solemn, but to go flat out “crazy.”

Paul's declaration in 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 is not about rising to be super spiritual, but about daring to be super strange. Lent is the season in the church when we actively “celebrate” Jesus' doomed entry into Jerusalem and anticipate his criminal conviction and his cruel crucifixion upon the cross.

Talk about weird holidays....

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