Cleansing the Temple   1 comment

Above:  Giotto di Bondone’s Painting of Jesus Expelling the Money Changers

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Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.

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THE FIRST READING:

1 Maccabees 4:36-38, 52-59 (Revised English Bible):

(Context = after the Hasmoneans have defeated a Seleucid force and recaptured the desecrated Temple in Jerusalem)

Judas [Maccabeus]and his brothers said,

Now that our enemies have been crushed, let us go up to the cleanse and rededicate the temple.

When the whole army had assembled, they found the temple laid waste, the altar desecrated, the gates burnt down, the courts overgrown like a thicket or wooded hillside, and the priests’ rooms in ruin.

Early on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month, the month of Kislev, in the year 148 [also known as 164 B.C.E.], sacrifice was offered, as laid down by the law, on the newly constructed altar of whole-offerings.  On the anniversary of the day of its desecration by the Gentiles, on that very day it was dedicated with hymns of thanksgiving, to the music of harps and lutes and cymbals.  All the people prostrated themselves in worship and gave praise to Heaven for prospering their cause.

They celebrated the dedication of the altar for eight days; there was rejoicing as they brought whole-offerings and thanks-offerings.  They decorated the front of the temple with gold garlands and ornamental shields.  They renovated the gates and restored the priests’ rooms, fitting them with doors.  At the lifting of the disgrace brought on them by the Gentiles there was very great rejoicing among the people.

Judas, his brothers, and the whole congregation of Israel decree that, at the same season each year, the dedication of the temple should be observed with joy and gladness for eight days, beginning on the twenty-fifth of Kislev.

THEN RESPONSE #1:

Canticle 9 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

(Isaiah 12:2-6 plus the Trinitarian formula)

Surely it is God who saves me;

I will trust in him and not be afraid.

For the Lord is my strength and my sure defense,

and he will be my Savior.

Therefore you shall draw water with rejoicing

from the springs of salvation.

And on that day you shall say,

Give thanks to the Lord and call upon his Name;

Make his deeds known among the peoples;

see that they remember that his Name is exalted.

Sing the praises of the Lord, for he has done great things,

and this is known in all the world.

Cry aloud, inhabitants of Zion, ring out your joy,

for the great one in the midst of you is the Holy One of Israel.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:

as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

OR RESPONSE #2:

Psalm 113 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Hallelujah!

Give Praise, you servants of the LORD;

praise the Name of the LORD.

2 Let the Name of the LORD be blessed,

from this time forth for evermore.

3 From the rising of the sun to its going down

let the Name of the LORD be praised.

The LORD is high above all nations,

and his glory above the heavens.

Who is like the LORD our God, who sits enthroned on high,

but stoops to behold the heavens and the earth?

He takes up the weak out of the dust

and lifts up the poor from the ashes.

7 He sets them with the princes,

with the princes of his people.

He makes the woman of a childless house

to be a joyful mother of children.

THEN THE GOSPEL READING:

Luke 19:45-48 (Revised English Bible):

(Set shortly after the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem; the Last Supper occurs in Chapter 22)

Then Jesus went into the temple and began driving out the traders, with these words:

Scriptures says, “My house shall be a house of prayer;” but you have made it a bandits’ cave.

Day by day he taught in the temple.  The chief priests and scribes, with the support of the leading citizens, wanted to bring about his death, but found that they were helpless, because the people all hung on his words.

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The Collect:

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Hanukkah (Chanukah):

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/11/28/from-the-hanukkah-chanukah-service/

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/11/28/for-the-sabbath-in-hanukkah-chanukah/

Jesus Casting Out the Money Changers:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/thirty-sixth-day-of-lent-tuesday-in-holy-week/

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From the reign of King Solomon to 70 C.E., except for the time between destruction of the first Temple by the Assyrian Empire and the construction of the second Temple during the Persian period, the Temple at Jerusalem occupied the heart of the Jewish faith.  So it was important to Judas Maccabeus (literally “the hammer”) and his brothers, sons of the late Mattathias, to restore and rededicate the Temple, which Seleucid king Antiochus Epiphanes had ordered defiled.  From the actions of Judas and his brothers, as the text from 1 Maccabees describes them, comes the Jewish holy time called Hanukkah.

Jesus, who in Luke’s gospel was just a few days away from his execution, expelled money changers from the Temple complex, which Herod the Great, hardly a pious individual, had ordered expanded greatly.  The Temple of Jesus’ time was also the seat of collaboration with the Roman Empire.  The Temple complex even sat next to a towering Roman fortress.  The architectural message was plain:  The empire is watching; be very careful.

Jesus was not very careful, by that standard.  Indeed, his deeds that day contributed greatly to his death.  And what was the issue with the money changers?  They converted Roman currency (technically idols) so that poor Jews could purchase sacrificial animals for the Passover, which celebrated God’s deliverance of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt.  All this occurred under the watchful eyes of Roman soldiers.  And the money changers turned a profit, as did the corrupt senior priest.  This was the collision of corruption and economic exploitation on one hand with liberation and sincere piety on the other.

There is no longer a Temple complex, and most Jews have moved on.  Rabbis reformed Judaism out of necessity after the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E.  And I, as a Christian, understand Jesus to have rendered the functions of the Temple moot.  And, through Christ, we who follow him become tabernacles of God.  May we, by grace, be properly cleansed ones.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 28, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN H. W. STUCKENBERG, LUTHERAN PASTOR AND SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF SAINT LANFRANC OF CANTERBURY, ARCHBISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARGARET POLE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

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Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/28/week-of-proper-28-friday-year-1/

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  1. Pingback: Week of Proper 28: Friday, Year 1 « ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

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