Take a nap

Lent 3B (RCL)
Exodus 20:1-7
Psalm 19
1 Corinthians 1:18-25
John 2:13-22

All of these lessons seem to me to have to do with the Wisdom myth of the second temple period. Certainly the psalm speaks of Wisdom present in creation and present in God’s way of life for us, and asks that the psalmist might live by that Wisdom. Wisdom, of course, departed from creation at the fall of humanity, and came to reside in God’s people, in the Torah and in the Temple. At the Exile, Wisdom departed again, and returned, some thought, to the second temple. There were many who did not agree, and found the second temple, at least in the Herodian period, far too deeply in bed with the Roman Empire. They were waiting for a further return both of Wisdom and of Jews in diaspora. Jesus’ “temple act” in all four gospels, but especially in John, seems to speak of Wisdom departing the Temple and coming to dwell in Jesus. John’s community makes the claim that it is the true Israel (in which there is no guile), and Jesus is the mode of encounter with God.

Paul also functioned within that second temple universe. But God has made foolish the wisdom of the wise, in the Word of Christ crucified. What a strange way for God to bring about God’s plan of the inclusion of everyone within the people of God. That was the intent from the beginning, and finally only accomplished in Christ, the Wisdom of God.

The Exodus reading gives us the Ten Words. The psalmist speaks of God’s wisdom ordering creation, and God’s wisdom in Torah ordering human community and relationship. The ten words sum up that wisdom for the ordering of community. What strikes me is that the word that gets the most words is the word about sabbath rest. Of all the words, it is the one most obviously present in God’s creation, since God created in six days, and rested on the seventh.

It also seems like the one we may need most to hear. How busy are our lives? We have scheduled ourselves to within an inch of our lives. People who have lost their jobs feel useless because they aren’t busy. If Jesus’ body replaces the Temple, and we are part of the body, we are part of the Temple, the mode of encounter with God in the world (Paul uses the lovely image of us as stones built into a temple). What busy-ness needs to be swept out of our bodies, out of our Body so that it might be a house of prayer? Perhaps our lenten discipline this week should be to take a nap!

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