A Foolhardy Faith; John 2:13-22
Sermon by Pastor Mark Siler, 2/28/18

A pastor friend of mine summarizes the Gospel this way, “Follow me and I will make you odd.”  Our text today reminds us that Jesus was odd, or to use Paul’s word, foolish.  He did not conduct himself in acceptable ways.  Unlike me, I’m guessing he did not get many of those “God Loves You” stickers for good behavior in Sunday School. Jesus does not reveal a God who is mannerly, who is presentable, who is concerned about fitting in and being esteemed.  No, Jesus reveals a God trying to shake us down, to shake us up, to shake us out of all that we think we understand, all that we think we see, all that we think we are doing right and leading us to a liberating love that knows no bounds. So as we hear this famous story of Jesus cleansing the temple, my question is this, “What is Jesus really turning upside down so that we might land right side up?”

I wonder if this scripture today is a holy word of caution for all faith communities, including us at Haywood Street.  Let’s face it, it’s amazing what has happened here over the last 10 years.  This place has gone from being empty to a community teeming with life.  Whether at the Clothing Closet or at Respite or in the garden, you can taste and see the goodness of God.  There is much to celebrate AND, as Will Willimon warns, we can so easily become a church that starts to make good sense, that becomes predictable, set in its ways, unwilling to have its tables overturned.  And friends, as we move closer to the cross in this season of Lent, may we hear the truth that the power of Easter can only reach us through overturned tables.  The life-altering, world-altering power of Easter comes to us in what the world labels absurd.

As pastor Shelli Williams observes, the world says “mind your own business”; Jesus says “there is no such thing as your own business”. The world says “buy low, sell high”; Jesus says “give it all away”. The world says “make something of yourself”; Jesus says “surrender your life to me”. The world says “be safe, be careful, be prudent”; Jesus says “those that save their lives will lose them, and those that  lose their lives for my sake will find them.” The world says “take your share, get what you are due”; Jesus says, “love your neighbor as yourself”.  Paul puts it this way, “God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.” (1 Corinthians 1:25)

Jesus does not say “understand me”, or even “worship me”, but “follow me”.  The point of everything we do here, whether at the Welcome Table or in worship, is so that we can open up to and follow this table-turning Jesus. May we welcome this God who frees us from the too small tables to which we cling and who shows us that table that can only be built by a bunch of fools conspiring with a God who dreams big, so big that everyone has a place.