March 11th Lenten Devotional

House of Prayer

Karin Bergstrom

Mark 11:15-19

Can you even imagine what it must have been like in the temple that day? Crowds of people, buying and selling animals, money being changed from the everyday currency of the people to the pagan-image free coins that were needed to make an offering in the Temple treasury … imagine the noise, the smells, the chaos. Is this what God intended for the temple to be? While both the coins and the animals were a part for worship for the people, it seems that Jesus saw that how it was being handled was taking people away from worship, not drawing them closer, and carrying merchandise though the temple showed great disrespect. So out it all went – the buyers, the sellers, the animals, the coins. Everything out.

Now I can’t imagine that things got calmer after tossing everything out (which is maybe a part of what upset the Pharisees), but did Jesus make his point? “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations,” he says, referring to a passage of Isaiah. While the people there might have known what Jesus was referring to, we often don’t. Isaiah 56:7 (CEB) says: “I [God] will bring them to my holy mountain, and bring them joy in my house of prayer. I will accept their entirely burned offerings and sacrifices on my altar. My house will be known as a house of prayer for all peoples.”

The temple wasn’t meant to be a place of chaos, but a place where God brings us joy. A house of prayer for everyone.

Sit quietly and slowly read Isaiah 56:7 again. Where in your life does God bring you joy? Where do you find God’s house of prayer? What at your church draws people into that space? Ask God to help you see ways that you can help make your church a house of prayer for everyone.

Karin Bergstrom, MA, is a Spiritual Director and a student at Luther Seminary in Minneapolis/St. Paul.

©2020 by individual authors and Facebook Narrative Lectionary Group.  This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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