(The gospel writer Mark is speaking to us.)
Yesterday I told you that Jesus staged a protest in the Temple. He explained the purpose of his protest with these words: “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.”
The first sentence of that explanation comes from Isaiah 56. The prophet wrote:
‟Make sure no outsider who now follows God
Ever has occasion to say, ‘God put me in second-class.
I don’t really belong.’
For God says:
‟And as for the outsiders who now follow me,
working for me, loving my name,
and wanting to be my servants–
All who keep Sabbath and don’t defile it,
holding fast to my covenant–
I’ll bring them to my holy mountain
and give them joy in my house of prayer.
They’ll be welcome to worship the same as the ‘insiders,’
to bring burnt offerings and sacrifices to my altar.
Oh yes, my house of worship
will be known as a house of prayer for all people.”
By quoting Isaiah, Jesus was saying that worship of God is not the possession of a certain class or group of people. God desires the worship of all people, and we need to organize communities of faith that are open and welcoming to everyone. It’s the Jesus way of doing things.
God of grace, as you have welcomed us into your circle of love, move us to welcome others. Amen.
(Translation of verses of Isaiah 56 is from “The Message” by Eugene Peterson.)