A New and Improved Temple

Shea: This week our study of Mark’s Gospel arrives at the Passion: Jesus’s illegal arrest, torture, trial, conviction, and execution—the Holy Week story.
Tim: For most people, the Passion narrative begins with the Passover in Mark 14. But I think it starts earlier, before Jesus predicts the end of time, at the top of chapter 13, where Mark writes, “Jesus left the temple.”

Shea: Why? What’s so significant about that?
Tim: Because he never goes back. It’s very clear Jesus’s death is a consequence of collusion between Rome’s pagan politicians and Jerusalem’s neoconservative hypocrites. The corruption is so deep the temple, as an institution and structure, can’t be saved. That’s the first message Mark sends to readers who are watching the temple crumble before their eyes. It was inevitable.

Shea: But “gospel” means good news! How is the temple destruction good news?
Tim: It’s not. But it leads to good news. Mark picks up on an Early Church theme—the concept of a new and improved temple, a body temple in which God’s Spirit resides. Ever notice how Mark’s Gospel gets real fleshy after Jesus leaves the temple? The focus shifts from stones and columns to Jesus’s body and his followers’ bodies.

Shea: Yes. The woman who anoints Jesus… “This bread is my body, this wine is my blood…” The failure to stay woke while Jesus agonizes in prayer… the Judas kiss… the lopped-off ear… that naked dude in the garden whom nobody ever talks about.
Tim: We’ll talk about him. But it interests me how all of this body stuff happens before Jesus’s own body is brutalized, bled out, and laid in a borrowed tomb.

Shea: So what does it mean?
Tim: What did Jesus say? “The temple will be destroyed but I’ll raise it up on the third day.” He’s not talking architecture. He’s talking about his body. And our bodies too. We are walking, breathing temples. Our bodies are sacred because they’re God-made, not a product of human invention. They’re where God abides. This was a powerful idea for first-century Christians. It’s powerful for us too and we’ll talk about it this week while we reexamine the cross and its meaning for us today.

We need your help!

As we think about the future of Gather, please let us know what gifts you bring and would like to share with the community. There are many roles that have to come together to make Gather happen every week. This includes setup, technical support, worship, managing handouts and information, coordinating drinks, and teardown. We need your help. Please let us know what type of service you’d be interested in!

Watch God Work,
Tim & Shea

NEW SERIES BEGINS IN SEPTEMBER
What kinds of spiritual practices and habits work best for us? How do we keep our faith life fresh? What do we do when things we’ve always done feel like they’re not working? How do we stay plugged in to God’s work in us and our community? This fall we’ll look at spiritual disciplines as our means of survival in an increasingly chaotic world.
Join us every Thursday from September 6 through October 11, as we examine Spiritual Disciplines for Undisciplined Times.

This Week

August 24-25 the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries Mid-West Regional Conference and Workshops will be held at Pillar of Love Fellowship United Church of Christ. On Sunday, August 26 at 11am, Gather will join churches from across the Midwest to celebrate Pillar’s 15th Anniversary, with our own praise and worship team helping lead the service and Bishop Yvette Flunder preaching. This is not something you want to miss. See you there!

As we prepare to become a vibrant worshipping community, we invite you to enjoy a Spotify playlist that captures the kind of worship we hope to embrace. Give it a spin while you’re driving. Make it your workout jam. Add it to your devotional time. Most of all, feel yourself becoming part of a sacred village of believers who love their God and one another!
Check out the Gather Worship Playlist here.