Sunday, April 01, 2007

Zechariah 9:9-12; Psalms 24, 29; 1 Timothy 6:12-16; Matthew 21:12-17

Palm Sunday always makes me think of the triumphant entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem and the painful and amazing events that follow in the week to come. While today’s lessons from the Hebrew Bible address Jesus’ kingly role, today’s gospel paints a different picture. In my office I have a print of an oil painting that hangs in a museum in Moscow. The painting has many different depictions of the face of Jesus. Some of them are very obvious, and some are hidden within the painting. Like the painting, today’s gospel reminds me of the many different faces of Jesus, the distinctive roles he has played in my life, and how he is able to comfort and challenge me just when I need it. Today we see a side of him that we don’t often acknowledge, a righteously angry God who is going to change how people view what it means to be church. Jesus wasn’t mad at the money lenders or those folk in the temple selling doves and other animals for ritual sacrifice. They were just doing their job, providing a service which was an important part of the worship life of the people of Israel. Instead, I think his actions were directed at the leaders of the temple and those who were using the temple for purposes other than what God intended. Jesus’ actions send a clear message that it will not be business as usual for much longer. In fact, by healing the blind and the lame, those folks considered unclean, not allowed within the walls of the temple, he put out a welcome mat for those who had been disenfranchised by the powers that be. He demonstrated in very visual ways his message that his kingdom will be very different, a place where all are welcome, saint and sinner alike.

Today’s gospel reminds me that God does indeed get angry and call us to do the same when our churches become the exclusive domain of the privileged. It reminds me to be intentional about reaching out to those who are outside our community and inviting them in to be part of the life of Christ’s church. As Christ-followers we are called to reach out to all, not just those who are clean and comfortable. So I ask myself this Palm Sunday, “Am I doing enough to heal and help those who are powerless in our community? Am I too comfortable to be angry for those who are exploited by others for profit or just ignored because of their low status? Is everybody welcome at Saint Matthew’s? Is Christ really my king?”

Jesus, create in me a clean heart, open to righteous anger. Help me make a difference in the lives of others, and give me the privilege of helping make your kingdom a reality in this broken world.


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