Hello everyone! I led worship this morning at our chapel. I felt supported and at home with the caring chapel of which I have the privilege to be a member. It was good to have so many taking part in the service, especially Christine our worship leader, our deacon David Hunt and three members who read the dramatised version of John’s cleansing of the temple. Unfortunately there were no children present but I still did the children’s address, where I told the true story of 2 boys at the end of the 19th Century who as boys do got into an argument which led to a fight. The fight looked unfair as one boy was bigger than the other boy, but the smaller boy was able to knock the taller boy to the floor; and as he went on his way the other boy said that if he had broth twice a week he would have beaten him. Those words rang in his ears and he could see the truth of the words; he had better clothes, food and education so Albert Schweitzer vowed to make the best of his advantages for others, as he did, gaining many qualifications including becoming a medical doctor and serving the people in Equatorial Guinea. I then asked them what made them angry and one person replied injustice, which is what makes me angry certainly.
Jesus was angry and made the whip to clear the temple of traders, all the noise of the market place stopped the Gentiles being able to worship; they were only allowed in the first section of the temple, where trade was practised. Jesus was also angry about the exploitation of the poor, overcharging them for changing their currency into temple tax and charging exorbitant rates for animals for sacrifice. I challenged them to think before they spent on unnecessary items and to recycle what they did not need for those who were in greater need. I have begun to clear out items I no longer use to go to charity shops or to be recycled for those who need them. We then sang the Song of worship, ‘Brother, sister let me serve you’ reminding us that we are pilgrims on a journey, fellow travellers on the road; we are here to help each other walk the mile and bear the load.
Our second song of worship was poignant with words from John L Bell:
Jesus Christ is raging,
Raging in the streets,
Where injustice spirals
And real hope retreats.
Listen Lord Jesus
I am angry too.
In the Kingdom’s causes
Let me rage with you.
In the sermon I reminded the congregation that God even in the Old Testament chose the Israelites, a small nation, out of his grace to make them his people and give them a moral set of laws, the 10 commandments, which were unique in that time, as they had the command to worship one God and serve him first and foremost and the other laws related to their interaction with other people. Jesus was angry because the Israelites in New Testament were more concerned in preserving the holiness of the temple from contamination or uncleanness than injustice and exploitation. He hated to see the poor overcharged and exploited and the trading in the Gentile courtyard of the temple disturbed their worship. Jesus was not afraid of standing up for those who were exploited; he was threatening the holiness of the temple as far as the Jews thought and did not understand that temple worship and sacrifice was not as important as being Jesus’ body in the temple of the world sharing all we have with those who have little. Most importantly for us to stand up and be counted against the injustice of cuts affecting the poor and vulnerable more than those who are rich is a vital part of what Jesus calls us to do. I encouraged the congregation to look at all they had and to redistribute our wealth for others, recycling and passing on to charity shops. Let us recognise that as the body of Christ we are called to stand against injustice and exploitation as Jesus did.