Zeal for Our Democracy


February 28, 2018

By Frank Basler.

Editor's Note:
This is the final issue of Spirited Wednesday. The authors of these devotions will continue to share their faith and wisdom in a new publication titled Starting With Scripture, a lectionary-based reflection that will be published on Mondays. Subscribers to Spirited Wednesday and The Spirit Calendar will begin receiving the new publication on Monday, March 5.


 

Scripture: John 2:13-22 (NRSV)

The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. 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. He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking of the temple of his body. 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.

Reflection:      

Bill Moyers ended his keynote address during the 2007 General Synod in Hartford with this line: “This is the Jesus who drove the money changers out of the temple of Jerusalem, and it is this Jesus called back to duty who will drive the money changers out of the temples of democracy.” It brought the house down!
 
Eleven years later the money changers are even stronger, and our democracy is in greater danger. Who will drive them out? You? Me? Our churches? The collective power of our New England conferences? The UCC as a whole? Not likely.
 
If you are like me, you’re feeling pretty powerless. I’ve come to the point where I can’t watch the news any more, once the News Hour is over. Reading The Times every morning leaves me sad, not angry. I’ve lost my capacity to be angry. Paul tells us to “be angry, but do not sin.” (Ephesians 4:26). I’m feeling resistant, though, to thinking I ought to rekindle the anger at injustice of my younger days. I don’t want get caught up in us/them, good guys/bad guys dualisms.
 
Jesus was angry when he made a whip and drove out the money changers, wasn’t he? Maybe not. John tells us what he did, not what he felt. His disciples saw him as zealous. “Zeal” is defined as “great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective." That really resonates with me!
 
The cause of challenging “…systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, ecological devastation, and the nation’s distorted morality” fills me with energy and enthusiasm! (That’s from the mission statement of the Poor People’s Campaign, for which Union Seminary is providing office space through its Kairos Center. Check out poorpeoplescampaign.org and kairoscenter.org)
 
When my term ends with my church, I intend to become active with both. I hope you can find a way of throwing the money changers out of democracy that fills you with zeal!

Prayer:

Holy Unity, be with us in our discouragement about the state of our democracy. Fill us with zeal for the promise of your reign of love and justice. In the words of Dr. King, “…grant that we wage the struggle with dignity and discipline.” [Thou Dear God. p 87]

Rev. Frank Basler is completing his call as Term Minister for Ridgebury Congregational Church. He is a therapist, coach, and facilitator of clergy groups.
 

Spirited Wednesday: February 28, 2018 , by Frank Basler.