Give her the works...
The following sermon was preached by Rhonda Kral, LSTC Senior M. Div. Student, in Augustana Chapel at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago on Thursday, March 23, 2006.
Ex. 20:1-17, I Cor.1: 18-25, John 2:13-221
Good News: God gives us the Works through Christ
I could see the signs… slow, shallow breathing, glazed eyes, almost closed, and reduced heart rate. I knew that Betty was dying. I entered her room, during CPE, introduced myself to her husband and asked how I might help.
"Well, if it were me, I'd tell you to scram… but my wife was an active churchgoer- a lifelong Lutheran, (Do you know about Lutherans?)
Give Her the works!! I don't think that I've had that class in seminary yet.
I thought about what "the Works" would be for me…
First I stroked her hair and greeted her as a fellow child of God. I had this wonderful, smelling balm in my pocket and I used it to make the sign of the cross on her forehead reminding her of her baptism into Christ.
I closed with the Lord's Prayer and then sent her to rest in peace to dwell forever in the paradise of God.
Today we don't hear about the comforting and peaceful Jesus; we see an angry Jesus who drives the merchants out of the temple. They have commercialized and exploited religion. But then mysteriously Jesus talks about his own death and resurrection, as a sign to come. A different temple. "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." (We read)
Our own bodies, (Our temples) could use some raising up too. Sometimes they need reform, change and renewal to stay healthy…and so do some of our institutions and even the Church.
You know that everything that Jesus rejected in the Jerusalem temple was put there with the best intentions..to help people understand God's will for their lives and to thank God for God's love. Yet it went all wrong. The temple became a place that exploited and maybe complacency seeped in.
Do you think that we have similar issues like the Temple of Herod? Oh I don't mean that we extort money for temple currency or overcharge for animal sacrifices. That was a full service temple!
What do you think would make Jesus turn over the tables in our churches today? Are there things that need to be driven out of our lives and out of the lives of our churches that prevent us from keeping worship to the standards of what John calls the "spirit and truth?"
I asked some of you that very question this week and this is how you responded:
Jesus gets angry when:
The Bible reads "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."
The true power of God is not found in the rituals and observances of our churches but in our encounters with the living Christ, who gives us zeal to change corruption and mediocrity, even when the world tells us to SCRAM.
I see signs of hope and promise in you .. the faithful at LSTC… who learn and teach and witness.
Therefore, in this season of repentance and reconciliation, let us go forward with the promise and hope of knowing that God gives us the Works through faith in Jesus Christ…when God touches us, calls us child of God, anoints us in baptism, tells us not to be afraid and then sends us to dwell in peace forever in the paradise of God.