We are in the Lenten season and this is a time of self-examination. Jesus cleansing of the temple leads us to ask ourselves, “Does our worship need cleansing and renewing?” “What does this ‘sign’ say to us about how we worship and our attitude toward worship”. This is a text that leads the religious to examine their religion.
In worship, we are supposed to come to meet God, to spend time with God and be touched by God and healed by God. In worship, we are supposed to let the God who loves us, touch our lives in his Word and the Sacrament, assure us of his love and send us out into the world to make a difference. It made Jesus mad, just so mad when he saw what had happened to worship in the temple and what terrible attitudes those worshippers had. When Jesus looks into the temple of our hearts when we worship, is he also horrified about the way we approach worship?
When he looks into our hearts does he see our reluctance, driven only by our consciences, barely participating in the service and glad it is all over when that last “Amen” is said? Are we so busy that out of the 168 hours in a week we can’t willingly spare just one hour to come into the presence of God with our fellow believers and celebrate God’s love.
When we come to worship are we aware of what we are doing – that we have come into the presence of the all-powerful and ever-loving God whose name we call on at the beginning of the service? When we come to worship do we have a sense of the absolutely amazing grace of God who has made it possible for us sinners to have the privilege to come before him? Isn’t it true that sometimes we lose focus of why we come to worship? We lose focus because we are distracted. by our feelings about this and that. This is one of Satan’s oldest tricks to get our thoughts and focus away from God and on to things very mundane and extremely distracting.
Remember Paul’s picture of the church as a body. Every part of the body works together, even in worship. And besides, God comes to us in his word and Sacraments regardless of what kind of music we have, or what style of liturgy, or what level of understanding we have about what worship is all about
Jesus cleaned out everything that didn’t belong in the temple. He cleans out everything that doesn’t belong in our lives including our worship lives in church, in front of a screen or a phone or wherever.
Jesus gave his body and blood for all the insincerity in our worship, the times we have been driven to worship by conscience but our hearts weren’t in it, for all the times we have spoken the words and not meant them. Jesus has given us his body and blood for the times we have sat untouched by the Spirit, for all the times we have given something else a higher priority than coming into the presence of God.
We thank God that he is still cleansing his temple, the temple of our hearts today. We are made clean by the blood of the Lamb and invited to come and stand in his presence with reverence and awe.