Flipping Tables and shattering barriers

Posted: March 26, 2018 by Ty in Spirituality
Tags: , , , , , ,

There is at least 2 times in the Canonical (those that post-Constantine church elders chose to be in the Christian Testament) Gospels where Jesus is shown throwing tables and “cleansing” the den of thieves from his Dad’s house. One is early in his earthly ministry, the other is during what we term Holy Week liturgically. Or rather after he arrives in Jerusalem and challenged Empire authority and Religious Controllers with his own festival.

In the Temple we try to reconcile our sanitized-westernized-personal salvation-prosperity gospel Jesus with what happens next. Is this our Buddy? Is this our brother?

In seminary and bible college I learned the other way of seeing the act. The changing of money was so no graven image entered the Temple, it was necessary. The sacrificial animals had to be without blemish so they had to be sold. As bringing a sacrifice on a journey could create blemish by travel. Essentially that these processes were necessary, and it wasn’t the process Jesus was mad at, it was the turning of profit. Yet I believe it is more than that.

Just look at Cain and Abel, Cain’s sacrifice wasn’t pure that is why YHWH rejected. Totally missing the point it was the heart behind the sacrifice, not the sacrifice that mattered to YHWH. In today’s terms imaging only being able to partake in communion or the pot luck or baptism if your Toonie/Loonie/Fin note were crisp and new without blemish? Or you had to purchase your pew (yes historic cause of Free church movement I am looking at you).  Sound ridiculous?

What these practices were/are barriers to belonging in the community. They stop accessibility and inclusion from those that were seen as “less than” and not fit to “be apart of”. This is the system that Brother Jesus walked in on, and if I may be blunt, lost his shit about. The cleansing was about shattering the power barriers of control that kept the blessed Children (read the beatitudes in Matthew 5) from belonging.

In the act of the scourging. In the act of flipping tables. Jesus was showing us that we had to shatter our pre-conceived notions. We had to get our hearts right for our neighbour. That the radical love being called for was not about perfection. It was messy, it was shattering what was seen as “holy” for what truly was. Being present with one another:


We may not have money changers today or sacrifice sellers in our temples, but what tables need to be tossed out? Literally shattering the barrier of belonging. So join me in flipping some tables and freeing folks from chains imposed by Religious Controllers.

Let us shatter these lies across the board:

  1.             The lie that LGBTTQ2+ do not belong or are sinners.
  2.             That Polyamory or common-law relationships between consenting adults are sin.
  3.             Persons with Disabilities need to be healed for they are not complete.
  4.             You are born depraved and evil in Original Sin.
  5.             Women are less than.
  6.             Children should be seen and not heard.
  7.             Elders cannot learn new things.
  8.             Different cultures/races/religions are to be feared.
  9.             A healthy sexual life is only about procreation.
  10. Reproductive Rights are only about abortion (complete body autonomy is a progressive lie told to you).
  11. Mental illness is due to weakness or lack of faith.
  12. If wealthy donors do something to harm the community it is okay, because we cannot afford to lose their money.
  13. That the building erected for worship is where God resides.
  14. Life is about the amount of wealth you can get, the things you can accumulate for this shows how much God loves you. If you are suffering it is because you have no faith.
  15. Addicts, the poor, the sex trafficked, the abused all brought it upon themselves.
  16. Dying with Dignity is an affront to God.

These are only some of the tables I believe Jesus would toss and shatter upon entering our temples today. He would scourge out the Neo-Nazis from Christianity (feel free to insert whatever euphemism you prefer for their bile hatred) as he and his cousin, John the Baptist called out the Sanhedrin. They would stand firmly with #timesup, #metoo, #Marchforourlives, and the bubble zones of safety around pro-choice clinics as those hurting or in need seek out solutions. They would stand with those that speak for full belonging for persons with disabilities; the spectrum of sexual identity; for the New Canadians (Immigrant or refugee), for the seniors and the young trying to afford medications (Universal Pharmacare and Medicare would be no brainers for them). There would be righteous anger at those that imposed values tests for those seeking welfare or entitlements designed as a safety net…for those needs tests come from the Upper socio-economic classes.

These are ancient stories, but the journey through is not ancient. It is now. The calling is to vocational radical love and transformation of self and community.

For radical belonging.

As each of us responds to the answer of the question:

Who is my neighbour?

Tossing tables and cleansing the temple, what calls to belonging resonate within you:

15 And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves; 16 And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple.

17 And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves. 18 And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine. 19 And when even was come, he went out of the city.

-Mark 11:15-19 (also found in Matthew 21:22-17, Luke 19:45-48 and John 2:13-22)


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