Mark 11.15-17, sorta

Once upon a Sunday, Jesus and his disciples drove into Colorado Springs, easily one of America's holy cities. They wanted to worship the Father with other believers. As they stepped into the Welcome Center of one of Outreach magazine's 100 Most Influential Churches, Jesus' eyes grew wild, feral. The disciples stepped back from the Son of Man.

Jesus walked straight to the coffee bar where folks were socially networking and building faux community and pitched all the condiments on the tiled floor. Then he threw a glass carafe at the liquid plasma TV on the wall scrolling how to "do life together." Not even taking a breath, he turned and ran to the God's Men display, complete with Braveheart sword in the middle. Jesus took the broadsword and totally demolished the books and DVD curriculum that had been painstakingly arranged in relevant stacks. One of the elders directed the security guards to "move in!" The leader of Growing Spiritual Champions began shielding the children behind her skinny jeans, screaming "Who the hell do you think you are?"

Breathless, Jesus wept: "You're lost; lost, I tell you! Tell the leaders to pastor; search and find the old words. For it is written My house shall be known as a house of prayer. You pray and beg God to "show up"? Well, I'm here and I hate this!"

[Notes - As I read this passage this morning, it seemed so remote, so sterile. The thought struck me that unless we can "see" this passage in a way that brazenly offends much of what we currently hold dear, then our lips are near, but our hearts are far away. There was no intent to translate, but rather paraphrase "cotton-patch" style.]


  1. John, You got me laughing with the response of the "Leader of Growing Spiritual Champions". That was too funny. I like your paraphrase as it does hit home in a way that challenges the assumed status quo. Without experience of the original context in the text, it's hard to imagine how taboo and challenging Jesus' actions were. thanks for posting. Do you really think he was that mad at the social networking part? :)

  2. John John goodness gracious. Could the picture you painted BE any clearer??

    I just wanted to SHOUT yes and amen. Especially commencing the search for one who "pastors and finds the old words"...such a desire of my heart.

    Oh, how I love Jesus.

    As always, a pleasure you are.

  3. But wait...isn't this supposed to be our best life now????

  4. John,

    This was gutsy. As we say in Arkansas, "real gutsy." I think about the coffee bars, in-house book stores, and delicatessens that grace the inner sanctums of the southern holies of holies and I am suddenly a bit uncomfortable. As in, really uncomfortable.

    I applaud you for writing this piece, brief though it was.

  5. Do people really have security guards at church? (completely irrelevant to the message you are sending, I know, it just caught my attention.)

    Your words cause needed pause.

  6. John-man... more time

    ...thank you!

    ...want to curdle my soggy sacred soul? about praying that God shows up

    ...where do they think he's gone?

    ...keep writing champ!

    ...'er, oops, sorry!!!

    ...but do keep writing!!!!!!! the way, Mike Todd will be down here with me this week

  7. John S.,

    For me, the historial context takes a back seat to the hysterical context.

    Nah, the social networking thing was probably o.k...:)

    Be well,

  8. Gretchen, you are a witty one, indeed...

  9. Mother Letter,

    Thanks. I don't presume to have the answers; I just don't think we're asking the right questions...

    If you see me with a cuppa Joe before service, please look the other way...

  10. Tiffani,

    I'm betting on Jesus too...


  11. John: I stole your blog from Mother Letter. It's been a great steal!

    Faith has never been for the weak-minded or the lazy.

    I remember a long ago Lenten sermon that jerked me out of my seat.

    The discussion was about justice and I was nodding happily along with each comment.

    "Yes, evil will be punished!"

    "Yes, there is a hell!"

    "Yes, the just will see God's face."

    "Yes, we will stand before Christ and account for what we did in our bodies."

    Then something different.

    "Close your eyes. Imagine you've died. You're walking the paved and glorious streets of heaven. As you walk in stunned awe at the magnificence of your new home, you turn in delight to the person walking near you."

    A pause so long I almost opened my eyes.

    "Now imagine it's your worst enemy."


    I could hear the blood rushing. I stood up.

    I didn't know I HAD a worst enemy -- but there was her face.

    Where the heck WAS I in my spiritual journey if I could judge someone else's journey?

    How could I forget that Grace leads us home?


  12. John,
    Wow. I really enjoy reading your words. This gets me to thinkin'. Thank you for sharing your gift with us. God Bless!


  13. Shewt, John. You're likely to see Seth peddling bags of whole bean coffee to people who don't even drink it. I'm just saying.

  14. Perhaps that's true, but please know that it is free trade. Jesus would drink it, I'm just sayin'.

  15. Several years ago I attended a church where one of the Pastors favorite sayings was "this is a safe place to worship".

    Over time, I realized he was right. Eventually I had to leave because I've met Jesus and there is nothing safe about Him.

    I love this blog John, as I have often been offended by Jesus... and because of that mercy, I keep making the decision to drink His blood and eat his flesh.

    I'm enjoying your blog man!