Tearing Down and Building Up – Malcolm Gordon and Michelle Lang
In the opening verses of chapter 13, Jesus challenges the disciples for swooning at all the grandeur and magnificence of the temple and its surroundings. ‘Not a single stone will remain on top of another’ he tells them, giving it to them straight. Of course the temple had lost its way. Rather than a light for people to live by, it had become a religious obstacle course that kept many people further away from God than they were before.
Jesus does most of his ministering outside the temple. This offends the priests and powerful who like to keep control of the bottle neck that the temple has become. They feel they have monopolised God’s presence. Jesus doesn’t agree. In fact, he sees the temple in need of a overhaul, from the ground up. Stretching back to Jeremiah the prophet, God has sometimes needed to tear down in order to make way to build something new.
In this way of prayer, invite people to consider what has lost its way in their lives world. It might be a big institution like the temple. Perhaps it is our church, or our government, or our society. Or it might be closer to home, perhaps it is our family, or our understanding of God, or a relationship that has become unhealthy. Have the blocks built up into a large tower or castle. Invite people to come and remove a block as an embodied prayer for God’s holy task of deconstruction in order to make way for the new reality that will come to fill that space. Acknowledge that this ‘tearing down’ is often painful as we let go of ways of being that have been important to us, but have now outlasted their fruitfulness.
To give shape and focus to this time, you could craft a shared response out of Jeremiah 31:28.
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