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  • The Revd Canon Camellia Flanagan, TSSF

Lent 3 Wednesday 6 March 2024 Exodus 20: 1-17 Psalm 19 1-8. 11. 1 Corinthians 1:18-25, John 2: 13-22

Considering that we are in the season of Lent it is appropriate that we look at the Commandments and today’s readings speak of them. I share my prayerful reflections on some with you.


+In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit Amen.


It is through Israel’s experiences at Mount Sinai, that we learn about the importance of obedience in our relationships with God, with family, friends and neighbours.  His laws help expose sin, and they give standards for righteous living.  When the Israelites received the commandments, they had escaped from Egypt, a land of many idols and many gods.


Because each god represented a different aspect of life, it was common to worship different gods in order to get the maximum number of blessings.  When the Creator God told his people to worship and believe in him, that was not so hard for them – he was just one more god to add to the list.  But when God said, “You shall have no other gods before me.” that was difficult for the people to accept.  However, if they did not learn that the God who led them out of Egypt was the only true God, they could not be his people - no matter how faithfully they kept the other nine commandments.  God made this his first commandment and emphasized it more than the others.

 

Today we can allow many things to become gods to us.  Money, fame, possessions, work or pleasure, can become gods when we concentrate too much on them for personal identity, meaning and security.  No one sets out with the intention of worshipping these things. But by the amount of time, we devote to them they can grow into gods.  And these will ultimately control our thoughts and energy.  Letting God hold the central place in our lives keeps other things from turning into gods.  We say that we believe in God – but do we sometimes distrust God and not believe the teachings we find in the bible?  Are we careless about serving God and not loving God more than anything else?  If we are, then we may find that there are difficulties with our worship and care of others in His name.

 

We might ask ourselves, “Do we neglect to connect with our community to show God’s transforming love to others? Can we sometimes be irreverent to God’s name, his word, and the sacraments?

 

We often hear people say “God” or see the letters OMG written or say “Oh my God” as an exclamation or even a swear word.  God’s name is special because it carries his personal identity.  Using it frivolously or in a curse is so common today, that we may fail to realize how serious it is.  The way we use God’s name, conveys how we really feel about God.  Can we make sure that we respect his name and use it appropriately, speaking it in praise or worship, rather than in a curse of jest?  Can we not take lightly the abuse or dishonour of God’s Holy name. 

 

The psalm this morning reminds us of the greatness of God and reminds us that both God’s creation and his word reveal his greatness.  The ancient Israelites held God’s name as holy and they did not even write the full letters of the name, only the first and last letter, which was how God described himself when he said “I am the first and the last, the Alpha and the Omega *Revelation 1:8, 22:13


We say we believe, and at times our faith is tested, and we find that life is giving us a rough deal.  We struggle to trust God, and we are told that God’s way of thinking is not like normal human wisdom. God offers eternal life, which no one, or nothing else can give. God offers us unconditional love.  We can spend a lifetime accumulating human wisdom, and yet never learn how to have a personal relationship with God.  The only way to obtain this is to come to the crucified and risen Christ to receive eternal life and the joy of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.


Bishop Sarah Macneil in her sermon on Sunday referred to the window in the Cathedral which is an interpretation of William Holman Hunt’s Depiction of Jesus as “the light of the world.”   You can find the sermon in the live stream of last Sunday’s service.  Thinking of the door of our hearts, it is up to us to open that door from the inside and let the light of Christ into our hearts of give light and direction to our lives.


The account of Jesus in the temple in today’s Gospel seems to be far from how John records Jesus as describing himself as the bread of life, the water of life, the light of the world and the good shepherd who loved so much that he gave his life for the sheep.


But what was really happening?  Jesus is God, and he knew exactly what was going on.  There had always been merchants in the temple courts, selling birds and animals for sacrifice, to people who had travelled long distances for the Passover and festivals.  Possibly, the merchants were selling defective animals at high prices and were changing money into the temple coins at exceptionally high exchange rates, to make profits for themselves.  Jesus knew that here every commandment of God was being broken.  Jesus was filled with righteous anger at injustice and sin, and he had God’s authority to do this.  He took wickedness as an insult against God, and did not deal with them half-heartedly. 


Can we also be warned about our attitude to God’s house of worship, his commandments, to injustice and sin and God’s authority?


The temple in Jerusalem had been built by Zerubbabel over 500 years earlier and for 467 years was being remodelled and beautified by Herod the Great and the people were startled at Jesus’ words, that this imposing building could be torn down and rebuilt in three days.  Jesus was speaking about his body and his words were remembered and took on meaning for his disciples after his resurrection. That Christ so perfectly fulfilled this prediction became proof for his claims to be God.  So, in the face of this evidence, can we be intentional in keeping God’s holy commandments, and in our connections with the wider community seek to inspire transformation of life for others through Jesus Christ?  Amen.

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