Scripture/Sermon of the Day.  March 7, 2021

Scripture Readings:  Exodus 20:1-3

Then God spoke all these words:
2 I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
3 You must have no other gods before me.

John 2:13-22

13 It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 He found in the temple those who were selling cattle, sheep, and doves, as well as those involved in exchanging currency sitting there. 15 He made a whip from ropes and chased them all out of the temple, including the cattle and the sheep. He scattered the coins and overturned the tables of those who exchanged currency. 16 He said to the dove sellers, “Get these things out of here! Don’t make my Father’s house a place of business.” 17 His disciples remembered that it is written, Passion for your house consumes me.[a]
18 Then the Jewish leaders asked him, “By what authority are you doing these things? What miraculous sign will you show us?”
19 Jesus answered, “Destroy this temple and in three days I’ll raise it up.”
20 The Jewish leaders replied, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and you will raise it up in three days?” 21 But the temple Jesus was talking about was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered what he had said, and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

Reflection/Sermon:

I.      There’s something unfortunate about this passage: many people use this story to justify their anger. I’ve heard things like road rage and yelling at children and spouses justified by this story.  Someone once picked up their television set and smashed it on the floor and said   “Well?! Jesus got angry too.  Look what he did to the moneychangers!”
        There are probably people from the January 6th insurrection of the Capitol who said, “Well, Jesus did it.” 

II.     But Jesus was trying to draw a line when he drove  the moneychangers out of the temple.  He said, don’t associate God with your money-making schemes and the unholy things you do.  We blur the line between the sacred and the profane.
        In America, we write the word God on all our money.  Just to the right of George Washington’s head, my quarter says, IN GOD WE TRUST.  On the back of our paper money, it says the same thing.  On the One Dollar bill, there’s a giant ONE spelled on the back and the words In God We Trust, hovering like an angel over it. The words IN GOD WE TRUST is on all our money.  All we need now is to add the words Aaron said to the Israelites after they made the golden calf:  “These are your god’s, O America.”
        Because many in America believe that money is god.   The men in my family taught me that and my mother said Jesus is God.  I grew up thinking both were the same.
        You know—instead of saying “In God We Trust—why don’t we just put Jesus’ picture on our money!?  Why don’t we put one of those shiny little holograms of his face on our credit cards?

III.    We blur the boundaries between what is God and what is not God.  People often invoke God’s name to make something evil appear good.  When they do that, they violate the commandment that says not to take the Lord’s name in vain.  Like holding a Bible up in front of a church after you’ve tear-gassed and pepper- sprayed a crowd of peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters.
        Last week the republican congressman from Arizona, Paul Gosar,  delivered a keynote speech at a white nationalist conference in Florida. On the front of the podium he spoke from were the large letters: AFPAC, which stood for AMERICA FIRST Political Action Conference.  The conference was organized by Nick Fuentes, a Hispanic and former Roman Catholic leader in the growing white supremacist movement in the United States.  Gosar spoke about the need for a big border wall in order to keep America First.  After his talk, he said, “May God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.”
        Then Fuentes took the stage and said,“White people are done being bullied!  America needs to protect its white demographic core.”  DOES GOD BLESS THIS?

IV.     It was an evening of hate speech directed at African Americans, Jewish people, gays, lesbians and transgender people.  And there is a spiritual deception happening here where people try to enlist God for their evil causes.  THEY INVOKE GOD AT HATE RALLIES.  And God’s name is stamped on money as if to suggest that money is sacred.
        But if money is so godly — why was Jesus so poor?

V.      Jesus was poor all his life — but with God he was the richest man in the world.  He had an endless supply of God’s real currency — which is Love.
        Jesus did not promote Israel First, or America First, or his Jewish religion first.  It was only God First. Which is the same as saying LOVE FIRST.
        And as we follow Jesus and put God first in our lives, WE CAN CASH-IN ON THIS DEAL TOO. Because IN THE BANK OF HEAVEN, there’s a constant and endless supply of God’s currency of love.  IT’S BEING PRINTED RIGHT NOW!   It’s the only currency where the more we spend and give away, the richer we become.