Saturday, March 14, 2009

3 Lent

Readings are here here.

This week we have the 10 commandments, Paul wondering about wisdom, and Jesus clearing out the temple courtyards. The collect prays "Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul." It seems that all our lessons point us towards one function of Lent - which is to examine our whole being so that we can make space in our lives for God to show forth through us.

The commandments can be seen as limiting us or freeing us. Often we think of any strictures in our lives as bad - in the west we sing "Give me land lots of land under starry skies above - don't fence me in." We exult in the freedom to go where we want when we want. But on the other hand there is the story of cattle who graze near a cliff - without a fence - they fall to their deaths. The psalmist calls the law - a lamp unto our feet - that is it is not THE path but the commandments help to make the path more clear.

In the cleansing of the Temple - those selling are not technically breaking the law. In fact, they are using the law which forbids images to justify their business. Images are forbidden by the first commandment. In order to bring one's gifts to the Temple - the money with the image of Caesar has to be exchanged for image-less money.

So it seems that the Law can be an instrument of helping us to find the way but it can also be used to do things that are not at all in the Spirit of the Law.

Maybe we all need Jesus to come into the temple that is our body, mind and spirit - to help us sort this out.

2 comments:

Jay said...

"So it seems that the Law can be an instrument of helping us to find the way but it can also be used to do things that are not at all in the Spirit of the Law."

That is the challenge isn't it. I feel it in my own being...to follow the historic Christian faith while avoiding the extremes of the far right and far left. A belief in the Bible can be used to abuse others....a disbelief in the Bible can shipwreck a person's faith journey.

kitty said...

Both sides have points to be considered and both need to listen to each other. I've heard that at the Bishop's meeting Walter Brueggemann talked about the prophets and the priests of the old testament arguing and fighting but that the church really needs both, not one or the other.

It's the same, I think, with how the Bible is to be seen both as a truth that goes beyond factuality and historical accuracy and as a guide that calls us to appreciate the mystical, mythical and non-literal -- in short, a truth that allows for ambiguity and welcomes questioning and study on many levels.