Scripture Lesson John 2:13-22 (Jesus drives the moneychangers out of the Temple.)
"Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a market-place!" also "The Jews then said to him, ‘What sign can you show us for doing this?’ 19Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ 20The Jews then said, ‘This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?’ 21But he was speaking of the temple of his body."
Sermon Title: "BERNIE: YOUR NAME IS LEGION"
Thoughts from the message:
Bernie Madoff is an example of the fact that some peoples' names are suggestive of their character since he "made off" with around $65 Billion of his investors' money. One of them was Nobel Prize winner and death camp survivor Elie Wiesel who lost both his personal savings and all of the money from a foundation he headed. Wiesel said, "We thought he was God, we trusted everything in his hands."
Many people are responsible for the financial meltdown we find ourselves in. In a sense, we are all responsible for this because we have come to worship power, money, and fame above all else. Paul Tillich states, "Whatever is your Ultimate Concern becomes your God."
The church bears a special responsibility since to many churches preach as though Jesus is some kind of divine Bernie Madoff. Just worship and praise Jesus, we are told, and we will have material returns beyond measure.
We have forgotten the Jesus who condemned those in the Temple for making money off of God largely from poor people who had to pay money in order to have an acceptable animal for their sacrifice.
We in America, have felt that we somehow have some sort of special relationship to God which entitles us to take actions for which we condemn others. We invade countries on the pretext that they have weapons of mass destruction while ignoring that we have WMDs by the thousands. We condone Israel's killing of innocent civilians in the name of self defense while we condemn others who fight Israel's occupation of their homelands. We allow Israel to lie about have nuclear weapons while we threaten other countries nuclear programs.
We have forgotten Jesus' warning that one Temple does not have any more of a special relationshp to God as any other. "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."
The first hymn and last hymn of the service, which came from the UCC Lectionary for this Sunday, were particularly appropriate for this service.
The first was "O God of Earth and Altar" by G.K> Chesterton
The first verse is:
O God of earth and altar,
Bow down and hear our cry,
Our earthly rulers falter,
Our people drift and die;
The walls of gold entomb us,
The swords of scorn divide,
Take not thy thunder from us,
But take away our pride
The last hymn was "God of Grace and God of Glory" by Harry Emerson Fosdick written in 1930 for the opening of the Riverside Church in New York City. I thought this verse very appropriate to the service:
Cure Thy children’s warring madness,
Bend our pride to Thy control.
Shame our wanton selfish gladness,
Rich in things and poor in soul.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
Lest we miss Thy kingdom’s goal,
Lest we miss Thy kingdom’s goal.