By The Very Rev. Sherry Crompton
March 15, 2009
Are any of you familiar with the book series written by Stan and Jan Berenstain called the Berenstain Bears?¹ The stories are all wonderful lessons of life for young people as Mama and Papa Berenstain Bear along with Brother Bear and Sister Bear encounter things like a bad dream, trouble at school and going to the dentist.
There is a story “The Berenstain Bears and the Messy Room.” It is a lesson about house cleaning. The introduction warns:
“When small bears forget to pick up, store and stash,
Some of their favorite things end up in the trash.”
The crisis in the story comes when Mama Bear gets fed up with the mess in Brother and Sister’s room and is too much to take. It goes this way:
“Well, the mess just seemed to build up and build up until one day… maybe it was because Mama’s back was a little stiff, or maybe it was stepping on Brother’s airplane cement, or maybe she was just fed up with that messy room, but whatever it was… Mama Bear lost her temper!
She stormed into the cub’s room with a big box. ‘The first thing we need to do is get rid of all this junk!’ she said. Brother and Sister were watching in horror as Mama began to throw things into the box.”
It’s like that sometimes with our lives, isn’t it? Things pile up until it is just too much to take. We have to clean up the mess. Whether it is a messy room or a messy set of circumstances at school or at home, the time comes when we just want the mess cleaned up.
Why do we want the mess cleaned up?
I think because a mess devalues something of worth. It might be a room we want to enjoy or a household where we want some peace and quiet. But, when it’s messy, it can’t serve its intended purpose. There are times when a mess can be so serious, nothing but radical housecleaning will correct the situation.
That’s what today’s gospel lesson is all about. Jesus finds a horrible mess in the temple and becomes very angry. He actually took a whip and drove the merchants out of the temple courtyard where they were conducting business. He overturned the tables where the accountants were making change and he told the merchants to take their merchandise away.
What is it that has created such passion in him?
I think because God was no longer put first in the temple. Jesus is telling us that
God needs to be first in our lives. Not the messes that we make more important than God. God first.
¹ Stan and Jan Berenstain, Random House / First Time Books; New York, 1983
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