Notices for Sunday 8th March 2015

They were indignant: “It took forty-six years to build this Temple, and you’re going to rebuild it in three days?” But Jesus was talking about his body as the Temple. Later, after he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this. They then put two and two together and believed both what was written in Scripture and what Jesus had said.
John 2:20-22 (Message)

Father God, show us how to live our lives because we love you, not because we want to please you.
Amen

We welcome our preacher this morning who is Rev Richard Sharples
After service tea hosts Chris and Joan

Our thanks for the flowers which are given by Jacquie Robinson in memory of Pamela Sinclair
Organist: Joan McGowan

Sunday 8th March
11.00am Preacher  Mr Tim Guy (Parade)
Vestry Stewards – Ian and Sheila
Door Steward – Warren
Tea Hosts – Warren and Vera

Diary Dates
March
Mon 9th        Every Day with Jesus Bible Study in Lounge 10.30am
Tue 10th       St David’s Day Celebration Tea at Rhosddu 2.00pm
Wed 11th      Midweek Communion at Regent Street 11.15am
Wed 11th      Bible Study at Avril’s home 7.30pm
Tue 17th       Hotpot Lunch at Rhosnesni 12.30pm
Wed 18th      ‘Dying’ Reflecting on art & faith at Regent Street 7.00pm
Sat 21st       ‘Seasoned With Salt’ North Wales Women’s Conference Memorial Hall Wrexham 10.30am – 3.30pm
Mon 23rd      ‘What’s been going on?’  Glyndwr University 6.00pm

Please pray for the following:
Richard Down
Phyllis Davies
Isobel Holroyd
Ernest Tait
Maurice Anderton
Ruth Hodson
Vanessa Woolrich
Kay Davies

All those who care for those in need.
We thank God for answered prayer and ask that he helps us to understand that all things do work together for good.

I met a stranger yestere’en:
I put food in the eating place;
Drink in the drinking place
music in the listening place,
And in the sacred name of the Triune,
He blessed myself and my house,
My cattle and my dear ones;
And the lark sang in his song,
often, often, often
Comes the Christ in strangers’ guise
often, often, often
Comes the Christ in strangers’ guise.

An ancient Celtic rune

Standing With Fools
John 2:13-22

This is always sort of an odd passage for us because we don’t usually think of Jesus getting angry. Here, as he approaches the temple, there is all this activity blocking his way. There are those who are exchanging currencies so that people can purchase animals to be sacrificed (because foreign currency was considered “unclean” and had to first be exchanged.) (and, of course, making a little money on the side!) So he “turns the tables”—literally and figuratively. Jesus cleared the temple not because they were necessarily doing anything wrong but because the temple should be pure, clear of all merchandising, all bargaining, and reward-earning. Now before we discount this with our “God doesn’t just live in the sanctuary” bit, remember that for these first century Jewish followers, that was exactly where God lived. Just as Solomon had intended when he constructed the first temple, this second temple was THE place where God dwelled. This was the House of God. And in the inner holies of the temple was the Ark of the Covenant, the very dwelling of God. So, I think Jesus probably did mean this to be taken literally to remind people that God was the master here, that this was God’s house, God’s dwelling place.

So, fast forward…our theology tells us that God dwells everywhere in our lives. Really? Everywhere? Are you sure? The temple is a metaphor for our souls, the temple where God should indeed be the master. But think about our own society. Our lives are reward-driven and because of it we live with the idea that we should get what is “due” to us. We believe that by working hard and doing the right things we will be rewarded. And often that carries into our spiritual lives. How many of us do the things we do because we think we should, because we think that it will in some way earn us points with God, or, even, because we think that we are the only ones that can do them? It is our own way of merchandising. What do we do because we love God and what do we do because we think that will reap a reward?

Meister Eckhart (13th-14th century German mystic) said that “as long as we to get something from God on some kind of exchange, we are like the merchants. If you want to be rid of the commercial spirit, then by all means do all you can in the way of good works, but do so solely for the praise of God.” Eckhart then exhorts us to “live as if you do not exist…then God alone dwells there.”

So, where, then, do we encounter God? Where do you expect to meet God? Where do you love God? If we really take all this journey stuff seriously, in what parts of our life are we aware of God and in what parts do we fall a little short? After all, if God dwells within our souls, if our souls are the temple for God, then why is this even a question? A life of faith is supposed to be just that—a LIFE of faith. This is not a trade-off. There is no such thing as “of the world” and “of God”. God is not locked in the sanctuary and we are not seeking some reward for a job well done. Our encounter with God in the sanctuary should, in essence, propel us into the world, carrying that encounter with us. God dwells with us. The Holiest of Holies is deep within our souls. That is how we connect with God—by growing our relationship with God.

When this Gospel version by the writer that we know as John was written, it was probably already late in the first century. Paul had written his letters and was gone. The writers of the synoptic Gospels were gone. And, more importantly, this temple would have been destroyed ten or twenty years earlier in 70 C.E. during the Siege of Jerusalem. (The Temple has never been rebuilt. After the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem in the 7th century, the Dome of the Rock, or al-Aqsa Mosque, was built on the temple mount. And even though Jews are now allowed to pray at the Temple Mount—actually the Western Wall, or Wailing Wall—the mount itself is under the administrative control of the Muslim Waqf.)   So, the Christian tradition holds that the temple is not needed, that Christ and we as followers of Christ are to become God’s dwelling place in the world.  Boy, that Jesus was a troublemaker wasn’t he? Look at that…he just turned everything over on our lives. So what do we do now?

Shelli Williams, Pastor  First United Methodist Church, Cleveland, Ohio, USA

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