Hey everybody – Welcome to Grace at Home, coming to you live from the Wilkerson house today! Before we get started, I thought I would just welcome you into my “space.” This is where I work when I’m home – we have this little 3rd floor dormer that I’ve turned into my study. Every sermon you’ve ever heard at Grace Chapel has been written right here!
I’ll just give you a quick look around – I’ve got some stuff on the walls – the family, Camp of the Woods, outdoor scenes. Pictures and family and friends, pile of books I’m using for these messages. You can’t see it but I’ve got a nice view out the backyard and into the woods. I spend quite a lot of time up here.
Now if I was Jimmy Fallon I’d have my kids or grandkids here with me, or my dog. But I don’t have any of them around. What I do have is a wife! Karen, come say hi to the GC folks! It’s just the two of us here these days. Karen’s been doing ZOOM lessons with her students, and our grandkids, too! We miss our kids and grandkids, but they’re all doing fine, so thanks for those of you who’ve been praying for us.
So here we are in what we call, Holy Week. And down through the centuries the church has given names to certain days of the week: Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. But as far as I know, no one has ever given a name to this day, Monday. If we were to give it a name, we could call it “Mad Monday.” Because it’s one of the few times in the gospels that we find Jesus getting mad. Angry, even.
So after the triumphal entry on Palm Sunday, Jesus and the disciples went back to Bethany for the night. The next day, Monday, they came back into Jerusalem. And this is what happened, from Mark 11.
On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” Mark 11:15-17
Like I said, this is one of very few times in the Bible we see Jesus get angry. Now, he didn’t lose his temper, like we sometimes do. He was in complete control of his emotions. But he was angry over what was happening. He was angry that people coming to the temple to worship or to have their needs met, couldn’t even get in because there was so much buying and selling and noise and commotion. Mad Monday. So in one of his strongest actions yet, he cleared the place out.
Then, when all the dust had settled and the place quieted down, he quoted the Old Testament Scriptures, where God says, “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” That’s the verse I want to think about for a minute today.
When I was on sabbatical I was doing a lot of reading and praying and thinking about our church. And what God had in mind for us in this next chapter. (I didn’t know the next chapter included coronavirus, but God knew.) And the Lord actually brought this verse to my mind. “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.”
I felt like the Lord was telling me what He wants His church to be about right now: to be a house of prayer for all nations. In other words, it’s about prayer, and it’s about mission. It’s about seeking God, personally and corporately, like never before. Prayer, worship,
repentance, surrender. And it’s about reaching out like never before – to love and serve people beyond our walls It’s upward – toward God. And outward – toward the world.
And you know what? That’s exactly what’s happening in this time of coronavirus, isn’t it? There are so many things we can’t do right now as a church – we can’t come together like we used to. We can’t offer many of the ministries and services and events we usually do. We can really do two things right now: We can pray. And we can love our neighbors. That’s what our BLESS series has been all about – Begin with Prayer, then find ways to Listen, Eat, Serve, and Share your story.
I don’t know about you, but I find I’m praying more than ever these days. In part because I have a little more time. I’m not rushing out every morning. And partly because we realize how dependent we are on God right now. These things are out of our control. No one has the answer. The whole world has been brought to its knees, literally, by this virus.
Our house, the Wilkerson house, has become a house of prayer. Karen and I have been doing devotions most morning over breakfast. We often stop to pray during the day or evening for our family, our city, our nation, and the world. And I think our church has been becoming a house of prayer, too, as we gather for ZOOM meetings and prayer calls and virtual small groups.
We’re praying more these days – because we realize it’s the most powerful thing we can do right now. And many of those prayers are for the world around us – for people who don’t know God; who don’t have a church. The whole world is dealing with this virus.
So, let’s keep leaning into those two things in this season – prayer, and mission. After Easter. all our campuses are going to be looking for ways to pray together. So be sure you’re connected so you can keep up on what’s happening. Let’s ask the Lord to use this time to make our homes and our church “houses of prayer for all nations.”
I’d like to close today by sharing a prayer with you. It’s a prayer that I started working on during sabbatical. A prayer that I would use every day to start the day. I don’t always stick to just these words. Sometimes I’ll expand certain parts of it, but it serves as kind of a guide for how I want to pray and live each day. So let me invite you to pray it with me as we close:
“Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; great God, Three in One, I worship you today.
Thank you for the gift of this day, and for all your good gifts to me. Make me a faithful steward of these gifts, that I might enjoy them to the full, and share them freely with the world.
Forgive me for my sins and failures, Lord, and restore me to a right relationship with you, and with anyone I might have sinned against.
Lord, I empty myself today of worldly ambition and self-reliance, and ask you to fill me with Your Holy Spirit, that I might be a good shepherd to my family, and to the flock under my care.
Make me attentive to your Presence as I make my way through the day, and make me more like Jesus to the people you bring across my path. Amen.”
Thanks for spending a few minutes with me and the Lord this morning. Hope you have a great day, and a great week!