Sunday 4th March 2018
3rd Sunday in Lent

Exodus 20:1-17; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; John 2:13-22

There are many workplace themes that echo through today’s readings. The story of Jesus entering the temple to drive out the money changes and animal traders, has often been used to argue that the world of work and commerce should not be allowed to penetrate those aspects of our shared life that we call “holy”. Such an attitude can easily be reinforced through a particular interpretation of commandments like “Keep the Sabbath holy.” But this somewhat misses the point -Jesus is reacting against a situation where the commercial gain of the temple traders had become more important than the observance of the covenant that their wares were intended to enable. This is not a statement that work has nothing to do with the things of God, but that work needs to come under the rule of God.

The people of the Old Testament had been in slavery, they knew the reality of work and human endeavour being used as a tool of oppression and abuse. The commandments are presented as a direct contradiction of that -they are a statement that God’s rule and law needs to permeate every aspect of our lives. These commandments and the Psalmist’s celebration of God’s law bridge any false gap that we might create between the world of work and the defining truths of our faith. They glaringly ask the question as to how the lives we live from Monday to Saturday will be influenced and affected by the worship that we offer on a Sunday. (If indeed this is our pattern of church attendance.) The references to slavery might cause us to also consider what are its equivalents today, and to pray for those who feel oppressed or de-humanised through their engagement with work and commerce