3.25.2012

THIRD SUNDAY IN LENT Year B

Exodus 20:1-17  •  Psalm 19  •  1 Corinthians 1:18-25  •  John 2:13-22




Do you remember a few years ago there was a person running for elected
office that seemed to take great pleasure in calling herself a
Maverick?


Our culture has sort of an odd relationship with Mavericks. On one
hand we don't really like folks who blatantly break rules and deviate
from the social norm when that deviation ends in hurting someone else
(eg. a murder, a pedophile, or Rush Limbaugh). And on the other hand
we often hold up as positive examples the people whose creativity and
ingenuity and passion are not held back by conventional thinking.


As human society has developed, it has developed guidelines and rules
and norms and laws that have helped it to function. There are civil
laws and there are social laws and there are religious laws and
sometimes they overlap. And people (with a variety of intentions) all
developed these laws with the goal of making society a place where the
greatest number of people can live in a safe and respected way.


While there are many instances where we have all been justified in
questioning the validity of social / civil / religious laws, in
general we follow them. In general, we trust the wisdom of the process
and intention and authorities that develop them.


In Exodus we see the 10 commandments given. Certainly it is true that
they put some boundaries on people that did not exist before. However,
imagine what a relief it might have been for some folks to be
explicitly told what it meant to follow God! Up to this point there
had been some direction, but very little community wide messaging.
There are some of us today that do not operate well when we do not
know the boundaries, and I imagine that was true then too.


Throughout time (and for us today) we can point to the importance of
"coloring within the lines"....the practice keeps us grounded...it
keeps us connected to the places from which we come. Following the
"traditional" patterns help to shape us and our outlook on ourselves
and the world.


As the Psalmist says, "The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the
soul; the decrees of the LORD are sure, making wise the simple; the
precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment
of the LORD is clear, enlightening the eyes;the fear of the LORD is
pure, enduring forever; the ordinances of the LORD are true and
righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much
fine gold; sweeter also than honey, and drippings of the
honeycomb.Moreover by them is your servant warned; in keeping them
there is great reward." There can be reward in following the
traditions and laws.


In Paul's letter to the followers of Jesus in Corinth, we see Paul
illustrating how important the laws of God and teachings of Jesus were
to him. He emphasizes that God's wisdom provides guidance above and
beyond any of the individual choices we may or may not make on a
regular basis.


And in the passage from John we have the famous scene of Jesus running
the money changers out of the temple in Jerusalem. He was upset for a
variety of reasons, I imagine; however, the words he uses here
illustrate that an important target of his anger was the people not
following the traditional practices and laws concerning keeping the
temple holy and pure.


What practices are you willing to get upset about today when they are
transgressed?
What benefits can you recognize from knowing the 'laws' of God and
following them?
What challenges do you run in to when you attempt to know and follow
the 'laws' of God?


God, help us.
We are drawn to structure and order
and we are repelled by it.
We yearn for the safety
of familiarity
and we are also interested
in freedom
and independence.
Help us to find our place
in You.
Help us to know our place
in You.
Help us to trust our place
in You.
Amen.


© matt norvell 2012 www.settingourstones.org we want to share
this with you and hope you'll share with the world; we simply ask that
you let people know where you found these words. May Grace & Peace be
with you.

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