Vessels of the Holy

Dear Beloved,

 

Wow! Do I feel surrounded by your love and care: cards, gift baskets, blessings, affirmations, and gifts both thoughtfully purchased and lovingly made. Thank you so much for the outpouring of love and support during last week's virtual baby shower! 

 

This Sunday, we will hear the story of Jesus overturning tables in the temple. In Matthew, Mark and Luke, this event comes at the end of Jesus' ministry -- after he has arrived to celebrate Passover in Jerusalem for the last time. But on Sunday, we will hear John's telling of the story (John 2:13-16). In John's gospel, this event happens at the very beginning of Jesus' ministry -- right after he turns water into wine! 

 

In this short passage, Jesus demonstrates what he thinks of how the temple is being used. He also uses the temple as a metaphor for his own body. Perhaps it's not surprising then that I've been thinking about sanctuaries (temples) and bodies as vessels. What we put inside and what we do with them matters. 

 

I don't imagine that the money changers or sellers intended to disrespect God. They were just making a living and providing a service. Yet Jesus points out the unintended or unconscious outcome of their behavior -- they have turned a house of prayer into a marketplace. I wonder what Jesus might say about how we do (and don't) use our church building.... What things do we do that he might challenge?

 

And I've been thinking about our bodies as temples, as vessels of the Holy. This can easily be taken to produce a bunch of purity rules and lists of should's and shouldn't's. But what if, instead of an excuse to shame, the idea of the body as a temple invites us to relate to bodies (ours and others') with love and compassion, acceptance and affirmation, sustenance and justice? What if the temples that are physical buildings and the temples that are physical bodies are intended to be vessels for love, acceptance, healing, rest and renewal? How would we treat our church building differently? How would we treat our bodies and other people's bodies differently? For me, this question feels empowering but also challenging. 

 

I hope you'll be thinking about it these next few days as you nourish and care for your body, a vessel for the Holy. And as we gather for virtual worship on Sunday!

 

With much love,

Thandiwe