Sunday 7th March 2021

An act of worship at home

Reading          John 2:13-22

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 market-place!’ 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.


I wonder what you think when you hear that reading read or read it for yourself. Of all four gospels John uniquely places the clearing of the Temple in Jerusalem almost right at the start of Jesus’ ministry. In fact in John’s gospel it is the very next event after Jesus has performed his first miracle of turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana. I think there are strong theological reasons why John did this but let’s think about this event in the light of the three earlier gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke who all place it very firmly in the last week of Jesus’ ministry in between his triumphal entry into Jerusalem and his arrest end execution on Good Friday.

Many years ago I heard a preacher explaining that Jesus chose this moment at the end of his ministry to make the strongest statement possible against what he saw as the corruption of faith in God by the religious leaders of his day. The implication as I heard it was that Jesus had deliberately waited until the time was right and his actions would have the most impact. A time when it force the hands of the religious leaders who would be left in no doubt that Jesus was not only challenging their authority but the authority vested in the Temple itself as the place where God was present more clearly than anywhere else.

I didn’t know at first why but I struggled with that explanation. But then, over the years, I became increasingly aware that the Jesus I see revealed in the Bible and have experienced and know in my life is not calculating and manipulative but one whose words and actions are always genuine and honest. In other words this was no calculated action done for effect but an open, honest expression of his anger at seeing how far away from revealing the God of love the Temple had become. It had become more interested in turning a profit than in welcoming those who were hurting and feeling separated from God and helping back into a healthy relationship with God.

Which is perhaps why John thought it important, in his deeply theological gospel, to move this event to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. Not because that is when it happened but because it clarifies for us that whatever Jesus’ response was in any situation it was always honest and open and had utter integrity. It is so refreshing!

Perhaps we have all met people who spend an enormous amount of time and energy dropping hints but not ever quite saying what they think. Phone calls which last an hour and clearly want to influence without being so obvious as to state a preference. Conversations which last an eternity, skirting around the edge but never getting to the heart of the matter. But then again we can all do it, if we’re embarrassed or nervous, or afraid of what the reaction might be.

But in Jesus we see the openness of expressing his thoughts and feelings, not calculating or manipulative but with complete honesty. And, of course, Jesus’ message was that God was no longer to be found in a place of stone and wood that had been corrupted and would be destroyed but in him who may be killed but would rise on the third day afterwards. And since then, miraculously and imperfectly, in us.

God with us, and God in us as living Temples.

Now there’s a thought that is both a comfort and a challenge! Amen.


O Lord, clear our hearts and minds of all unrighteous clutter.
As we seek to be your Church in our day, drive out all that is unworthy of you.
Let us think not of human transactions – our losses and gains – for we gather under the banner of your love that demands no price but our love in return.
Help us to sacrifice all that we are to your service, as Jesus sacrificed everything for us.
Father God, we adore you for your patience with your wayward children; for bearing with us when our understanding is skewed and our behaviour wrong.
Jesus, we adore you for being with us always, your humanity entwined with ours; for showing us the way in your life and through the Word.
Holy Spirit, we adore you for working through us despite our failings; for living in us and enabling us with a strength greater than our own.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you are wisdom in our world; you flow through creation and consciousness.
Our attempts to house you in bricks and mortar are foolish.

Come to us as we where we are, gathered together in worship but each in our own home, and lift the stones from our hearts, so that we may be your Church in word and in deed.


I danced in the morning when the world was begun

and I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun

I came down from heaven and I danced on the earth

At Bethlehem I had my birth

Dance, then, wherever you may be

I am the lord of the dance, said he

And I lead you all, wherever you may be

And I lead you all in the dance, said he

I danced for the scribe and the Pharisee

But they would not dance

   and they wouldn’t follow me

I danced for the fishermen James and John

They came with me and the dance went on

Dance, then, wherever you may be…

I danced on the Sabbath and I cured the lame

The holy people said it was a shame

They whipped, they stripped,

   and they hung me high

And they left me there on the cross to die

Dance, then, wherever you may be…

I danced on a Friday when the sky turned black

It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back

They buried my body, and they thought I’d gone

But I am the dance, and I still go on

Dance, then, wherever you may be…

They cut me down and I leapt up high

I am the life that will never, never die

I’ll live in you if you’ll live in me

I am the Lord of the dance, said he

Dance, then, wherever you may be…


Let us go into this day to love and serve the Lord.

And may the blessing of God, Father , Son, and Holy Spirit be with us all

this day and forever more.


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