Cleansing the Temple

In reading through the texts for the second week of Advent, I came upon the familiar lines of Isaiah, echoed in Mark:

“Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.”

As I often have, I wondered exactly what that meant.

To me at least, I pondered that directed me to not get caught in many of the twists and turns of life, but rather to keep my eyes and heart locked on the goal–making myself and my life a fitting example of Christ’s teachings.

We are reminded in Isaiah that God has dealt generously with Jerusalem and thus with us as well. We are promised that God is coming!

Yet, in our second reading from Second Peter, we get a quite different message. It is one of chaos and fire, of destruction and upheaval. All that we have done here on this earth is to no account, it will be destroyed and replaced with a “new earth”. We apparently have so ruined this one, that the only recourse is a cleansing.

But look a bit deeper. The writer of 2Peter is writing in perilous times for his community. While Jesus himself, and Paul thereafter spoke of his return in terms of years, now perhaps as much as 70 years has gone by. And few if any eye-witnesses remain. Hardly anyone has even heard an eye-witness speak.

The community is disheartened, distressed, and persecuted.

“What have we done wrong?” you can hear them ask.

The one writing assures then that God gauges time much differently than they. God so loves his people that he gives them this time to make of themselves that perfect being, worthy of the Kingdom. And so the delay is not out of anger or disgust, but rather out of love.

In effect we are told that as we cleanse ourselves of sin, so we bring forth the day we long for.

We do not sit passively, tending the fire, waiting for salvation. No we participate in the Kingdom now by our very actions as Christians. If we do our jobs, living lives worthy of the Kingdom, then we hasten the return of our King, we make the fire unnecessary.

We cleanse the Temple in a literal sense as our way of making straight the path of the Lord.

Come Lord Jesus!

Amen.

 

Is 40:1-5, 9-11
Ps 85: 9-14
2Pt 3: 8-13
Mk 1: 1-8

 

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tim
    Dec 04, 2011 @ 15:00:35

    Sherry, once again I’m amazed at how the Spirit often draws both our attention to the same thoughts and lessons in the texts. Such beauty and wisdom finds clarity in Peter’s fire–this bracing idea the transformations in us occur in God’s own time and God’s own way. And once again we’re reminded now matter when we live, whether surviving Babylonian captivity, enduring Roman oppression, or living in a pressure-cooker culture run amok with greed and power-hunger, God turns our errors into refineries for our good. If we humbly submit to the process–if we surrender impatience and arrogance to do the hard work of Advent–we will be cleansed. Changed. Purified, as Malachi 3.3 says, that we may offer the Christ Child offerings in righteousness.

    May it be so!

    Many blessings as we journey along together,
    Tim

    Reply

    • Sherry
      Dec 05, 2011 @ 13:38:31

      Such amazing lessons to remember always. They truly are timeless, which I think points to the “inspired” nature of the writings. We can always benefit from realizing that we are bringing forth the kingdom exactly as we choose to live our lives, and with that, we bring forth Jesus, just as real and present as if he were physically before us. What an important thing to realize! Blessings! Sherry

      Reply

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