Year A – Easter Day – Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24

Easter Day
Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24: Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; *  his mercy endures for ever. Let Israel now proclaim, *  “His mercy endures for ever. “The LORD is my strength and my song, *  and he has become my salvation. There is a sound of exultation and victory *  in the tents of the righteous: “The right hand of the LORD has triumphed! *  the right hand of the LORD is exalted!  the right hand of the LORD has triumphed!” I shall not die, but live, *  and declare the works of the LORD. The LORD has punished me sorely, *  but he did not hand me over to death. Open for me the gates of righteousness; *  I will enter them;  I will offer thanks to the LORD. “This is the gate of the LORD; *  he who is righteous may enter.” I will give thanks to you, for you answered me *  and have become my salvation. The same stone which the builders rejected *  has become the chief cornerstone. This is the LORD’S doing, *  and it is marvelous in our eyes. On this day the LORD has acted; *  we will rejoice and be glad in it.

Summary – This Psalm was sung by travelers coming to Jerusalem to worship (after the exile). It focuses upon the goodness of the Lord for those entering into His presence in His House. It is used by worshipers on the original Palm Sunday and since then in the Church to mark this time. Psalms 118:25–26 – “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD; We have blessed you from the house of the LORD.” This Psalm includes some marvelous prophetic words that Jesus cited in the temple area during Holy Week. Jesus was the chief cornerstone, but the builders rejected Him. Yet through this rejection, God has acted.

Insight – The latter verses in the Psalm make it clear that God was doing something marvelous by the rejection of Jesus. The rejection of the chief cornerstone, means the building will be rebuilt. The religious leaders of Jerusalem in the first century rejected Jesus as the cornerstone of the holy temple of God. They were trying to build a different building. Their foundation was their works done in self-righteousness, their dead rites, and their political collusion. They white-washed tombs filled with dead men’s bones. Their unrighteousness becomes clearer and clearer as they successfully plot the murder of Jesus. When Jesus went to the temple in fulfillment of Psalm 118, He announced in the words of Jeremiah 7, this temple would be no place of refuge for them. Not one stone would be left standing on the other. Jesus was intent on building another house, another temple, the Church from all nations. 1Corinthians 3:16 “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and the Spirit of God dwells in you?”

Child’s Catechism – Who is Jesus? Jesus is the cornerstone of God’s holy temple, his Church.

Discussion – From your knowledge of history, why do you think God let Jerusalem’s temple be destroyed in 70 A.D.?

Prayer – Almighty God our heavenly Father, we give you praise because you sent Jesus as the chief cornerstone of your new holy temple, your Church. Grant that we may be aligned with Him purposes and His will so that we may ever please you in service in your house. In Christ’s name. Amen.

Year C – Third Sunday in Easter – Psalm 30

Psalm 30 NRSV

A Psalm. A Song at the dedication of the temple. Of David.

I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up,
and did not let my foes rejoice over me.
O Lord my God, I cried to you for help,
and you have healed me.
O Lord, you brought up my soul from Sheol,
restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit.

Sing praises to the Lord, O you his faithful ones,
and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger is but for a moment;
his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may linger for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.

As for me, I said in my prosperity,
“I shall never be moved.”
By your favor, O Lord,
you had established me as a strong mountain;
you hid your face;
I was dismayed.

To you, O Lord, I cried,
and to the Lord I made supplication:
“What profit is there in my death,
if I go down to the Pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it tell of your faithfulness?

10 Hear, O Lord, and be gracious to me!
O Lord, be my helper!”

11 You have turned my mourning into dancing;
you have taken off my sackcloth
and clothed me with joy,
12 so that my soul may praise you and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.

 

Summary – The theme of this Psalm is fitting for the Easter season – Resurrection! In vss.1-3 David praises God for drawing him up (v.1), healing him (v.2), and bringing up his soul from Sheol, and restored his life from the pit (v.3). Sounds like a resurrection!

Verses 4-5 David commands us to sing praises to God because even though God gets angry, it is only for a moment, but His favor lasts a lifetime. Weeping is for a night, but joy comes in the morning. With the theme of resurrection on our mind, we can think of the Jesus absorbing the anger of God for a moment on the cross, and with His death we will weep. But in the morning there is joy, because God is no longer angry, his wrath has been satisfied, and now his favor rests upon us for our entire lives, because Jesus is alive forevermore. Amen!

Verses 6-10 I think is a lament from David. David had God’s favor, but something happened to make God “hide His face” from him, that is, remove His favor from him. Perhaps this event was  David’s census in 2 Sam. 24, which brought the Lord’s judgment upon Israel and seemingly almost led to David’s death (v. 9). David then bought the threshing floor of Araunah and built an altar on it so that he could make sacrifices for sin (2 Sam. 24:18-25). God responds with forgiveness and removes David’s sackcloth (the clothing of repentance) and clothes him with joy – resurrection!

Insight – David built an altar on the threshing floor of Araunah. There he offered up sacrifices, and was raised again to life, symbolically. This is the same place that Solomon built the temple (2 Chron. 3:1), which is located on Mount Moriah.  Mount Moriah is the same place that Abraham offered up Isaac as a sacrifice, and where God, in a sense, “raised him from the dead” (Heb.11:19). Jesus talks about his own resurrection as the rebuilding of the Temple (John 2:19-21). In the Bible, death, resurrection, and temple building seem to all fit together. Let us be reminded once again that Jesus in His death and resurrection has made us to be a living Temple with Him as the chief cornerstone. The Temple was created for the purpose of praising and worshiping God. Let us then, as the living temple of God, be diligent to offer up sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ!

Catechism – How long will God favor you? For my whole life.

Discussion – Discuss the Jesus as the Temple. Discuss the Church as the Temple. How does Jesus’ resurrection like building a Temple? Discuss how repentance of sin is like a death and resurrection.

Prayer – Almighty and Victorious Savior, we praise you for going down to death for us, and there killing sin and death, and the Devil. Up from the grave you arose, with a mighty triumph over your foes. You arose a victor from the dark domain, and you live forever with your saints to reign. Therefore Most Blessed Savior, we praise you forever, for obtaining God’s eternal pleasure for us. In your name we pray, Amen.

Submitted by Michael Shover

Year B – Proper 28 – Mark 13:1-8

Mark 13:1–8 NRSV – “As he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” Then Jesus asked him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.” When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?” Then Jesus began to say to them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birthpangs.”

Summary – This is the beginning of a passage known as the Olivet Discourse. The focus of this text is the destruction of the  Temple, “what large stones and what large buildings.” Jesus explains that, “Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.” Jesus explains the signs of when this will come to pass. There will be false leaders coming in Christ’s name, wars and rumors of wars, nation against nation, earthquakes, and famines. This the beginning of the birthpangs.

Insight – Many have thought this passage is about the “end” of the world, rather than the “end” of the old order of the Jewish Temple-system. While it is true that Christ will come at the end of history to judge the living and the dead (John 5:28-29), I am persuaded this passage is  about the end of the old covenant age which concluded with the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD. This discussion begins with the Temple. Jesus says the stones of the first century Temple will be torn down. That happened in 70 AD. Also this is referring to only one area, Jerusalem in Judea. In vs 14 He says, “then those in Judea must flee to the mountains.” But most importantly He practically dates the fulfillment to the first century when He says in Mark 13:30 “Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place.” “This generation” simply refers to those who were living at the time Christ spoke these words. Since the Temple was destroyed during that very generation, we should see this text as a great proof that Jesus keeps His word.

Catechism – What did Jesus predict would happen within a generation? The temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed.

Discussion – Why would God allow the Temple in Jerusalem to be destroyed by the Roman General Titus?

Prayer – Our Heavenly Father, we thank you for your Word and its truth. We thank you that you sent Jesus to be our savior and that His body is the true temple of God. What you have promised you will fulfill and we trust you. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Year B – Trinity Sunday – Isaiah 6:1-8

Isaiah 6:1-8:   In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. 2 Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. 3 And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” 4 The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke. 5 And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” 6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. 7 The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!”    (NRSV)

Summary:  Though we are always in the presence of God, we never get such a direct peek at the Almighty as Isaiah describes here.  He witnesses a vision of God’s holiness; one that we can only try to image; finding himself standing inside the throne room of the Lord (possibility while he was at the earthly temple).  Frightened and in awe, Isaiah cannot help but recognize his own impurity and imperfection before the pure the perfect King of the Universe.  Specifically, the prophet mentions the unclean lips of himself, and of his people (v5).

Insight:  It makes sense that the purity of a prophet’s words would be an important aspect to his ministry; but of all the sins that humanity has and can do, Isaiah speaks of his guilty for the things he and his people have said.  We can speak some awful and wicked things to one another.  Often times, we don’t even realize how much words can hurt.  We speak flippantly, without thinking and in ignorance; yet like everything else about our lives, our speech should also reflect the holiness and goodness of God.  We need to be speaking in truth and in love.  This means our mouths need restrain and discipline just as much as the rest of our mind and body.  And now, since Christ has purified his people, we may join that angelic chord which sings:  “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.”

Child Catechism:  In the presence of God, what did Isaiah recognize was wrong with him and his people?   That they had misspoken, and were a people of unclean lips.

Discussion:  What did Jesus say about careless words?   (Matt. 12:36-37)

Father, cleanse our hearts and minds with your Spirit, so that what we say and do would be true and pure, in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

March 11, 2012 Year B – Third Sunday in Lent: John 2:13-22

13 The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. 15 Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” 18 The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was speaking of the temple of his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

Summary:  The temple was central to Israelite life.  At the time this was the meeting place of God and His people.  And greed is only one way God’s people can corrupt even the most holy of human activities.  Christ was not against worship in the temple, He was after all going to Jerusalem in celebration of Passover (vv13-14).  Instead, Christ’s zeal was for the purity of worship in the temple.  Of course, it wasn’t until he rose from the dead that the disciples began to fully understanding the larger implications of God’s presence in that human temple:  the God-man Jesus.

Insight:  Many hypocritical thoughts, actions and emotions plague our lives as Christians.  Such anxieties follow us into corporate worship as well.  We want to be zealous for the Lord’s house;  And when we gather in the presence of the one true God, we are also naturally concerned that our worship be just as true.  As a result of the incarnation, Jesus is the one obedient and faithful worshiper of God.  Both the book of Romans and of Hebrews emphasize that it was his perfect sacrifice and worship that allows us to worship with a good conscience; and that because it is Christ’s Spirit within us.  This is why Paul speaks of our body’s also being a temple.  Isn’t it exciting and scary to know that God is especially present with each of us?  Yet, it is God who graciously affects and reforms us, transforming you and I, and making us anew (cf. 2 Cor. 3:18).  Though our bodies won’t be completely new until that final resurrection (Phil. 1:6); this is still all the more reason to appreciate and yet disciple our physical-ness during this season of Lent.

Child Catechism:  What temple did Jesus destroy and raise up again?  His physical body, which is the greatest temple:  the presence of God fully and yet fully human.

Discussion:  What are some ways we can take care of this bodily temple?  Is it possible to abuse and misdirect our passion for God?

Father,

You know our frame;  You know we are but dust;  Show us compassion.  Treat us as sons in your household, teaching us proper zeal and leading us by you Spirit and in Christ’s name.  Amen.

[Contributed by Malcolm West]