Monday In Holy Week


An extract for Monday in Holy Week from my book Reflective Services for Lent:


On Monday Christ throws out the money-seeking money-changers from the temple:






In answer to the question, ‘What was it that made Jesus so angry?’, most scholars agree that it was not financial extortion, it was the fact that the only place reserved as a space where non Jews could pray was full of commotion and Jewish traders’ stalls.  There is no evidence that they were overcharging – the point is that they did not occupy spaces reserved for Jews, they occupied the only space reserved for foreigners to pray in.  They did not respect their need for silence.  They treated them as inferior people with no spiritual needs.  That’s what made Jesus angry.  And that’s why he focused on the particular prophesy of Isaiah (56:7) that the temple was meant to be a house of prayer for all peoples.




Christ fearlessly goes to the heart of what is wrong and confronts it. Jesus, like the prophet Isaiah, understood that the destiny of the Jews was to be a light to the nations, until every nation finds God’s plan and all places of worship becomes spiritual homes for all who seek to pray, regardless of race or gender.




The Christian Church began with a wall-busting experience.  At the moment Jesus’ spirit was released from his body the ‘wall’ (a curtained partition) that kept people out of the Jewish temple’s inner sanctuary was split open, Matthew 27:51.   The new ‘temple’ was not a building, it was a body of people who had Jesus as their head.  The Church was publicly launched at the Pentecost Festival with an experience that transcended all walls.  People of many languages and nationalities became open to God.




As the church spread, its members met in all sorts of different places.  Over the centuries they naturally erected special buildings where they could meet.  Sometimes they forgot that the church was not the building.  The building took over.  The tail wagged the dog.  Some buildings became dinosaurs – liabilities – the wrong shape in the wrong place.  Meanwhile their God-without-walls had moved on.




Peter Neilson, who chaired the Church of Scotland’s Church Without Walls Commission, first had the idea when he saw the Abbey without its walls at Whitby.  Once, this was the most thriving church community in Britain, led by Abbess Hilda. At that time it was a church without walls because it was a large village through which people could come and go.  After the Vikings destroyed this, people with a ‘church means walls’ mentality erected an Abbey.  Now that abbey’s walls have crumbled. 




The lesson is:  Churches with walls (i.e. churches that won’t change) in the end lose even their walls. Churches that don’t put walls up (that is, churches that are open to God) don’t lose their buildings because they evolve in keeping with God’s plan.




God Bless






Posted at 09:35am on 6th April 2020
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