Blog Space of Rev. Adrian J. Pratt B.D, pastor at Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church, Ellicott City, MD

Monday, February 26, 2018

Clearing the Way

One of the first winters after my family and I had moved from the United Kingdom to live in West Virginia, the area we were living was hit by a series of heavy snow storms that took out the power, brought down the trees and even stopped the water supply for a few days.  The storm was so severe that they sent in the National Guard to help with the clean up.

We had a fairly long driveway that a huge tree had fallen across, so, even if we could manage to traverse the snow, we couldn't get to the road. I still recall the joy at seeing a couple of National Guard folk appear in the driveway brandishing chain saws and how they made quick work of getting a path clear so we could at least get out when we needed to!

When there are things blocking the way it is hard to move forward. What applies to our physical lives also applies to our spiritual lives. Last week here at Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church we were thinking about “Which Way should we Go?” (Sermon here.) This coming Sunday we'll be taking a look at a passage (John 2:13-22) that is often described as “Jesus Cleansing the Temple.” When Jesus arrives in Jerusalem, and visits the temple, He is horrified by the spectacle that greets Him.

What was meant to be a place of prayer had become a den of thieves. Money changers, who enabled the people to make offerings that put them right with God, were swindling their customers in order to line their own pockets. The temple authorities turned a blind eye to what was going on because, not only  were they being paid off, but money was flowing into the temple treasury... and that was good for business. The whole institution had become corrupted.

As we learn of corporate interests driving the agendas of politicians elected to serve, we naturally question their motives. Human nature has not changed. If making a profit becomes the bottom line, righteousness is an inconvenience. The recent debate about gun control, following the tragic murders of 17 at a Florida school, has resurfaced accusations that there are those in political leadership who care more about the interests of their wealthy donors than the needs of those they are called to serve.

When it came to the Temple, Jesus was having none of it. He overturns the tables of the money changers, drives out the traders and releases the sacrificial animals. The authorities did nothing to stop Him, because they knew He was doing the right thing. If they challenged Him they would be exposed for the hypocrites they had become.

Laying aside religious and political shenanigans, what of our own lives? What are the preconceptions and assumptions that are preventing us from spiritually moving forward? What are the forces and needs and desires that are driving us? Where are the blockages? Are there areas of worry we can remove by placing our trust in God? Are there relationships where we need healing? Are there areas of compromise where we are turning a blind eye because we make the excuse “We're only human.”

Lent is all about “Clearing the Way” towards a more informed, deeper and enriching spiritual relationship with God. It requires taking time out for reflection, worship and prayer. “Clearing the Way” means we can move forward. The alternative is staying where we are. And often that is not such a great place to be!

Some music from Hillsong “From the Inside Out.” The lines “Lord, let justice and praise become my embrace, To love You from the inside out” seemed to particular resonate with this meditation about inner cleansing.

Hope your Lenten journey is leading you to good places in your life!

The Reverend Adrian J. Pratt B.D.

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