In the Gospel reading from Luke this morning, we read that the Passover was approaching. And Jesus went up to Jerusalem in the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” (John 2:13-22)
In the other three gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus clarifies his actions with these words: “It is written, my house shall be called a house of prayer”. (Matthew 21:13, Mark 11:17, Luke 19:46). When He says it is written, he is referring to the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah, who recorded this prophecy: “My house will be called a house of prayer for all peoples”. (Isaiah 56:7) “Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your sight? You know, I too am watching, says the Lord” (Jeremiah 7:11)
How do you view church? We have heard the teaching many times that the church is not a building. The church is a church without walls, a living organism made up of lively stones, a church that is always in the process of becoming. But, we are also taught that when Jesus is in the house, the ground we stand on becomes holy ground. This is holy ground, we are standing on holy ground. We sing this song every time we meet for Welcome Church in Wells Park. It’s just as true in Wells Park as in this place. Jesus says that when two or three of you are meeting together in my name, there I will be in the midst of you. (Matthew 18:20)
“We‘re standing on holy ground. For the Lord is present. And where He is, is holy. This is holy ground. We’re standing on holy ground. For the Lord is present. And where He is, is holy”. Jesus is in this house! And he says: “My house is to be a house of prayer for all people.”
Do you believe that church can be fun? Can church be enjoyable? I do. When we think of the word church there are a lot of emotions and pictures that come into mind. I like to think of the church as a safe place. A place to find refuge from the storms and chaos or the disappointments of this world. The church is a healing place. It’s a place to bring your burdens to the altar and leave them there. The church is made up of people that we care for and people that care for us. It is a place that encourages accountability, someone to share our weaknesses with, but also our strengths. A place to be held accountable for, a place to be prayed for and a place to pray for others.
The church is a place to find encouragement when we are down or troubled. It is a place to have fellowship, a place to break bread together at the communion table and during coffee hour. The church is a place where we can share mission, common vision and goals. The church is a place of gifted members, a place to be empowered and encouraged in your gifts and ministry. You are not alone.
My house will be called a house of prayer! We are called to enjoy the presence of the Lord, to include God in every part of life. We are called to live a life of prayer. Jesus says his house will be called a house of prayer. We need to remind one another that we are also called temples, we are the house that Jesus abides in. We are temples of the Holy Spirit. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own”? (1 Corinthians 6:19)
The Reverend Dr. David Madsen