ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF COUNTRY
We gather on Dharawal land which modern Australians since the 1890’s have called Engadine after the Engadin Valley in Switzerland. Some of our families have been here for 70 years, Dharawal people have been here for many thousands of years. We acknowledge their elders past and present as we gather in this place where God our Creator is also acknowledged as Lord.
CALL TO WORSHIP based on Psalm 19 vs 1-6
The heavens keep telling the wonders of God, and the skies declare what the Creator has done.
Each day informs the following day, each night announces to the next. Night and day don’t speak a word yet creation sings God’s praises. Soon we may hear that song even on Planet Mars.
In the beginning there was light and today our sun gives light for our enjoyment and wellbeing.
Surely today is a new day, God’s gift to us all. May we use this gift with wonder, courage and joy.
HYMN – TIS 179 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLZszh-wFz0
Praise with joy the world’s Creator
God of justice, love and peace
Source and end of human knowledge
Force of greatness without cease.
Celebrate the Maker’s glory
Power to rescue and release.
Praise the Son who feeds the hungry
Frees the captive, finds the lost
Heals the sick, upsets religion
Fearless both of fate and cost.
Celebrate Christ’s constant presence
Friend and Stranger, Guest and Host.
Praise the Spirit sent among us
Liberating truth from pride
Forging bonds where race or gender
Age or nation dare divide.
Celebrate the Spirit’s treasure
Foolishness none dare deride.
Praise the Maker, Son and Spirit
One God in community
Calling Christians to embody
Oneness and diversity.
Thus the world shall yet believe
When shown Christ’s vibrant unity. ©John L Bell & Graham Maule.
NT BIBLE READING 1 Corinthians 1:18 - 25 (NRSV)
For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.
GOSPEL READING John 2:13 - 22 (NRSV)
The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” 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. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.
In this is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
God of justice, we come before you a broken people, in need of your healing and care.
You shape us for community - yet in our desire for personal gain we often forget others,
leaving them to fend for themselves as though they are not connected to us.
God of mercy, heal our hearts.
You shape us for compassion – the love that would put us in another’s shoes.
Yet we allow the difference we see in each other’s experience of life
to drive us away from our dependence upon each other.
God of mercy, heal our hearts.
You shape us for virtue - for lived lives that mirror what we think, believe and say.
Give us strength and imagination to live beyond our small attitudes,
scatter the ‘money changers tables’ in our own lives that separate us from you and each other.
God of mercy, heal our hearts.
WORDS OF ASSURANCE
Hear these words of assurance: “God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom”
Our God offers healing and wholeness even when our wisdom says we are beyond rescue.
In the name of Christ, we are made whole. Thanks be to God!
MESSAGE “Enough is enough!”
When we picture our Lord, it may include one of determination as he keep his focus on Jerusalem, of his deep faith and his trust in the Father, of his compassion and tenderness, of his inclusivity plus the odd acerbic interaction with the Pharisees. But no where do we see his anger more clearly evident than in all four versions in the Gospels of today’s Cleansing of the Temple! All record scenes of the violent overturning of tables and the driving out of the money changers and the sellers of animals for sacrifice in the Temple. Only John records Jesus fashioning a whip made out of cords to assist in his task. Could you ever imagine Jesus taking a whip to someone?
These are uncomfortable scenarios and his actions have been used by others down the centuries as they sought to severely punish those who in their eyes also ‘desecrated the Temple of God’ i.e. the Church. And John is also the one who leaves us in no doubt that Jesus is not just talking about the Temple Herod re-built, but also his own body soon to be hung on a cross and raised to new Life!
And perhaps this is why John underscores this link between the Temple and Jesus at the beginning of his Gospel, while the other 3 synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark & Luke all place this story just before the events of Holy Week in a clear and unmistakeable link to his death. And no wonder, for Jesus’ decision to clear the outer Temple courtyard where money changers and the sellers and buyers of cattle, doves and sheep were brought and bought for sacrifice, challenged the very fabric of Temple worship and the political and religious structures that supported its place in Jewish life.
The Temple and all its activities were overseen by the Scribes and Pharisees and the High Priest but only with the approval of the Roman Governor Pontus Pilate who had been Procurator of Judea since 26AD. Any dissent was viewed dimly by Pilate who had already and would 6 years later not hesitate to bring in the Roman troops from the Fortress Antonia to quell any disturbances.
There could be a no more political action by Jesus than by doing what he did.
No wonder the Jewish leaders wanted to kill him. This act of Jesus’, more so than even his riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, was the last straw for them. He must die. He is challenging all we hold dear.
And what he did was deemed ‘political’ or a threat to the State, because his death by crucifixion was at the time, unique to Rome and it was always used to kill political enemies. i.e. Don’t attempt to disrupt the rule of the Caesars. If you are familiar with the civil wars that occurred across the Roman Empire in the 1st C BC, crucifixion was their most ruthless deterrent for those non Romans who sought to disrupt their so called Pax Roma, the Peace of Rome.
Why? Because all the Gospel writers sought to compare Jesus, as a greater Prince of Peace and Son of God with Caesar Augustus (27BC – 14AD) Prince of peace and son of the gods, the adopted son of the god Julius Caesar who was assassinated on the Ides of March in 44BC.
So what can this passage say to us today?
Did Jesus just have a bad day and lose his cool? After all he’d been to the Temple before and the buying and selling of animals for sacrifice had been going on, as instituted by Moses, for hundreds of years. As had, since Judea lost its independence, the exchange of foreign coins for Jewish ones.
The sheep, goats, cattle and doves wouldn’t have been quiet! It was always a noisy place!
In Matthew, Mark & Luke what makes Jesus incensed is the exchange rate money lenders and traders charged so that people could bring their sacrifices to God. They were a ‘den of thieves’.
Jesus is incensed when anyone takes advantage of or makes ‘profit from’ in whatever guise, of another person and their desire to access God in Christ Jesus.
Throughout the history of the church ‘taking advantage of others’ has been all too common.
The sexual abuse of children and its treatment of women have been its most shameful examples. While in more general terms, the church has too often taken advantage of people’s generosity to serve or required them to carry heavy burdens / clear numerous hurdles or tests for access to for example the sacraments or to even to be able to attend or participate in worship services.
Too often we consciously or unconsciously set such rules and expectations around what was required to belong, to participate – often time honoured practices little to do with the Gospel.
In John’s Gospel, Jesus equates what is going on to ‘a marketplace’. You have forgotten reverence and treat this place of worship and all that happens in it as if, it were like a trip to Coles or Woollies! Perhaps this is like chattering away before church without intentional regard to how we might prepare ourselves to worship, to listen, to receive and to respond.
Do you spend an intentional part of the week in prayer and preparation for Sunday morning?
It’s one thing to be relaxed and less formal and that is so refreshingly different from my upbringing and probably yours; but it’s quite another thing to be filling our conversations and thoughts with stuff that makes it all but impossible for us to ‘be still’ as we gather together.
Or in this story is Jesus ‘just saying’ that Temple worship is coming to an end, it is no longer needed. Soon, very soon, you will have direct access to the Father, through me. So his getting rid of all these sacrificial animals and the money changers is just a prelude to his supreme gift of Himself. But to use a whip with cages and tables overturned creating even more noise and chaos? Jesus was also angry.
In what part of your life might Jesus say ‘enough is enough!?’. “I am the One in whom is found Life!
I want real change after all this is why I gave my life so that you might truly live.
May each one of us have ears to hear, minds to discern and hearts open to receive Christ’s Good and transforming news for each of us this day. Amen
HYMN TIS 674 vs 1, 2, 4 & 6 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_pMH1-Bu-7U
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 for ever 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?’
To God, who through the prophets proclaimed a different age
We offer earth’s indifference, its agony and rage:
‘When will the wrong be righted? When will the kingdom come?
When will the world be generous to all instead of some?’
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. John Bell & Graham Maule
HOLY COMMUNION adapted from a Liturgy for Autumn by Rex A E Hunt
Loving and caring God, you have searched us out and known us, all that we are is open to you…
Look not upon our shortcomings but upon our faith.
Break down all barriers which we erect against your love.
Cover us with the blanket of your peace.
And let your justice reach to the ends of the earth.
So that we come glad to this celebration, and tell us again about the changing colours of Autumn, and currawongs, and of a God who loves and seeks after us. Silence
O God, bring new life, where we are worn and tired; new love, where we have turned hard hearted; forgiveness, where we have wounded, and the joy and freedom of your holy spirit,
where we are the prisoners of our selves. Silence
In time beyond our dreaming God hovered over the water, and was revealed in fire and storm and in the Law. Likewise humanity in this creative likeness, evolved on this earth,
along with earth's minerals and waters, flowers and fruits, living creatures of grace and beauty!
We offer this our thanks and praise.
In the forty days of Lent, we also remember the love made manifest in the birth, life, and
death of Jesus of Nazareth. In his healing acts and radical teachings we recall the words he spoke
to call forth love, care and respect for one another.
We are grateful for this assurance of love amidst human betrayal, care amidst hatred, respect amidst oppression. And so, with Elizabeth who prophesied a birth, Martha who longed for the Christ, and James and John who sought to follow in the Way, we continue our praise, saying:
Holy, holy, holy, vulnerable God, heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of God. Hosanna in the highest.
Long ago, so our tradition says, Jesus took bread, offered thanks for it, and broke it:
'This bread is broken, as my body will be'.
He handed it to his friends, and invited them to eat: 'Remember all that I have been to you'.
Long ago, so our tradition says, Jesus poured a cup of wine, offered thanks for it,
and gave it to his friends: 'This wine is poured out, as my life will be.
As you drink give thanks for all I have given'.
These very gifts of God, for the people of God.
HYMN TIS 536 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZ2iohk3CJw
An upper room did our Lord prepare
For those he loved until the end:
And his disciples still gather there
To celebrate their risen friend.
A lasting gift Jesus gave his own:
To share his bread, his loving cup.
Whatever burdens may bow us down
He by his cross shall lift us up.
And after supper he washed their feet
For service, too, is sacrament.
In him our joy shall be made complete
Sent out to serve, as he was sent.
No end there is! We depart in peace.
He loves beyond the uttermost:
In every room in our Father’s house
He will be there, as Lord and host. Fred Pratt Green 1903 - 2000
BLESSING & BENEDICTION – TIS 778 sung by Rev Paul and anyone with a mask on!
Shalom to you now, shalom, my friends
May God’s full mercies bless you, my friends.
In all your living and through your loving
Christ be your shalom, Christ be your shalom. Elise Shoemaker Eslinger