The Hands that Cleanse

15 After entering the temple, he threw out those who were selling and buying there. He pushed over the tables used for currency exchange and the chairs of those who sold doves. 16 He didn’t allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. 17 He taught them, “Hasn’t it been written, My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations? But you’ve turned it into a hideout for crooks.”

Luke 11:15-17

This Lent, we are studying the Hands of Christ and their activity in the world, to learn more about how we are called to use our created-in-the-image-of-God hands.

This week, as we look at Christ’s hands, we remember that they are hands that cleanse.

My guess is that as we all are responding to the outbreak of the Coronavirus in our country, that we all have hands that are much more focused on the work of cleansing than normal. Take a moment to look at your own hands. Think of all the ways they have served as hands that cleanse in these past seven days.

Jesus goes about the work of cleansing the temple, because it had been corrupted. The definition of the word corrupt is “having or showing a willingness to act dishonestly in return for money or personal gain”. There were people who were using the normal worship activity of the temple for their own personal gain. They had created a marketplace for currency exchange and the selling of sacrificial animals that exploited money from the people coming to worship God, for their personal benefit.

We are living in a time, when it would be easy to let ourselves be corrupted by fear. When we could let our fears, cause us to focus on the protection and survival of only ourselves or those closest to us. Yet, here is the thing about viruses – the thing about the threat of global pandemics. They remind us of how connected we all are to one another – that we are all part of this grand eco-system, a globe full of life that is interconnected, that pulses and breathes, together.

In this moment, we are aware in ways we typically aren’t, of how the welfare of one in our midst, is intimately tied to the welfare of all, of how we care for the least of these in our midst, directly impacts the health of us all.

The apostle Paul, spoke of this same truth, in his letter to the body of believers in Corinth,
“Christ is just like the human body—
a body is a unit and has many parts; 
and all the parts of the body are one body, 
even though there are many…
God has put the body together, 
giving greater honor to the part with less honor
so that there won’t be division in the body 
and so the parts might have mutual concern for each other.
If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; 
if one part gets the glory, all the parts celebrate with it.”

The body of Christ – 
many members – one unit
many parts – one body
the life of one,
is bound to the life of all. 

Life bound together.
That seems to be what these days we are living are reminding us.
This life that we live is not an isolated one, 
it is not life
fractured along fault-lines,
separate –
instead this life that we live is life
bound –
life bound together.

So, we must care for one another.
As Jesus cleansed the temple of its corruption,
we must allow ourselves to be cleansed of our fear
and all that it breeds in us – division, selfishness, and greed.
We must allow ourselves to be cleansed of our fear
and let care and intention and compassion
wash over us instead.

So, wash your hands.
Wash your hands,
cough into your elbow,
drink plenty of water,
eat food that is chock full of nutrients,
stay home if you are sick,
care for yourself – 
for in caring for yourself,
you care for those around you.

Wash your hands.
And every time that you do,
you should have at least 20 seconds of time to pray.
Every time you wash your hands – 
ask God to cleanse you of your fear
and all that it breeds within you.
Ask God to wash over you with love and grace
with care and compassion 
that call our attention to this important truth –
that we are one body
that we are all connected
that this life of mine
is bound to this life of yours
is bound to the life of all.

*This post includes excerpts from Pastor Clare’s sermon, preached on Sunday, March 8th. To hear it in its entirety click on this link for our sermon media player.

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