The Zealous Ones

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by Rev. Leslie O’Callaghan
One of the blessings of ecumenical relationships is the sharing of language and phrases that bring richness to our faith lives. Add to that the gorgeous vocabulary of the LGBTQIA+ family, and our attempts to harness faith in words get a little more productive! For me, to hear the words at holy communion from our Episcopal siblings, “Behold who you are; become what you receive,” centers me so firmly in the reality of the body of Christ, I have a hard time loving other welcomes to the table. “Consume me and be me!” Jesus says. And we do that in community, heading out the door to bear the love of Christ to the world, loud and unabashedly clear about who we are. So when we, as a community, step into the temple courtyards with Jesus in this week’s gospel text, I wonder if the words have a similar transformative strength in them. After flipping the tables in a fit of rage that we in our polite little circles have attempted to calm with the language of “righteous anger” or less violent images than our meek and mild Jesus getting pissed at those who were destabilizing the very systems intended to gather in the nations at the feet of God, some change comes to the temple. 
It is at this point that the words recalled benefit from some flipping of their own. A prophet is quoted, “zeal for your house will consume me.”  Consuming zeal. As an adjective it’s powerful. As a verb phrase of the present tense, it calls us to something new. What if we consume the zeal of Jesus in the same way we consume the body and blood of the holy meal? Consume the zeal and become one unafraid to flip the tables of injustice in the presence of the powers who would uphold them. Flipping tables is rough. It’s messy. Toes get stubbed and shins a little bruised. The wealth we hold in fits of security is scattered and shattered on the floor. But at the end of the day, the lonely seeker is welcomed into the family they might have only seen in dreams. 
I see you, zealous ones, my siblings seeking out the courtyards of exclusion and breaking down the barriers one at a time. I also see you, guardians of the temple gates, with systems and requirements that keep the weary world at bay and leave you sitting with your worthless boxes of coins and requirements. It’s time to flip the tables in the name of justice and mercy. Consume the zeal and let it drive us to a new reality of what it means to be Christ’s church, a house of prayer for all people. 
God of all people, you call us to break down the barriers that keep your children from experiencing the beautiful blessings of community. Forgive us for our part in constructing them. Give us the courage to flip the tables of injustice and the sustaining power of your presence within us to keep the doors open.  Amen.

Rev. Leslie O’Callaghan(she/her)  lives in Denver with her spouse Asher, their dog Francis, and three kitties who make life magical. She serves as Assistant to the Bishop for Faith Formation and Candidacy in the Rocky Mountain Synod, has attempted to learn the accordion and bluegrass banjo during the pandemic, and loves to find rest in the kitchen creating something delicious, usually with butter.

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