March 11 – Third Sunday in Lent

Good morning all! Hope you remembered your clocks this morning!

Today’s scripture: John 2:13-22  (NRSV)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?” 21But 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.

Today at the CoOp we will be talking about Pruning our Finances.  Turnings out that Jesus actually talks about money more in the Gospels than heaven and hell combined.  In the Gospel of Luke, 1 out of every 7 verses is about money.  So why is it so hard for us to talk about money in our spiritual lives as well? Perhaps we have to admit that sometimes we misuse money or don’t use it in ways that we want to anyway.  Perhaps it is because we have to acknowledge that money speaks about where we prioritize and where we are careless.  And we certainly don’t want to admit that the church doesn’t really have a lot of it but we don’t want to limit ministry. It’s a tricky situation.

Jesus actually did some pruning financially for others.  He first of all asked his disciples to give up everything (seems like a drastic cut) and then went into the temple because misuse of money was happening all over the place.
The way money was being used didn’t represent the spiritual work going on.  Instead Rome was taking advantage of a spiritual holiday to benefit Rome.  Deals were being made, people were being taken advantage of and all within a time that was supposed to be pruning away to refocus back to the Jewish story.  The meaning was being missed in the midst of not wanting to really talk about money.
My co-pastor Mark wrote the weekly devotional for the CoOp and he says this about money, ” The real issue is not financial it is spiritual—who, or what is our god?  Martin Luther said that your god is “Whatever your heart clings to—especially in times of trouble.”  I have shared before my TV free diet of the past four years.  I do this not because I find TV commercials silly, or irritating, on the contrary I find them to be amazingly powerful.  They somehow powerfully influence how I spend my money and where I center my heart.  I don’t want society or advertisers to do that.  So I’ve pruned commercial TV out of my life. “
So the question becomes, who or what is your god?  What are you clinging to that may distract from the meaning of our journey?  Where does your money go? For me, this is a great question when I look at my finances.  I feel as though I have to prune financially all the time because I am constantly looking at my student loans, mortgage, tax payments…you know, you have been there.  So when I look at leftover finances it is good to reevaluate where my money is going to and what I believe in.
Good luck with your continued pruning!
Prayer:  God, you have made us creatures with brains to think and hearts to lead.  Lead us now.  Redirect our evaluation of our resources and help us to make sure that we deal with them on a spiritual level as well as a rational level. Amen.

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