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TURNING THE TABLES (Jesus & the money changers)

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ART FOR JESUS CLEARS THE TEMPLE
temple.jpg
Click right on this picture for source art.

Click here for new activities for Turning the tables 2. New activities include: arts/house of prayer sculpture; kitchen/granola; music/ teach song; computer/ Jesus in Space, Lets Talk; drama, songwriting and script writing workshops. - July 5/08

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OVERVIEW

TOPIC/STORY:

A detailed look at the key story where Jesus clears the buyers and sellers and money changers out of the Temple.



DATES:

March Year A.



WORKSHOPS:

Drama, Arts, Kitchen, Computer



ACTIVITIES:

News event/report with photo essay, stippled art postcards from 'place of prayer, 'soul food'/mini carrot muffins, Life of Christ computer program.


SOURCE TEXTS:

Mark 11: 15 - 19. READ THIS.



KEY VERSE:

Mark 11:15

"Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and of those who sold doves..." (New Revised Standard Version)

After storytime in church, all children meet for a gathering time and brief review, then go to scheduled workshops.

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BACKGROUND NOTES (& OTHER NEAT INFO).


JUST WHAT EXACTLY IS GOING ON HERE?

In order to approach this question, we need to identify the setting, general social context for the incident, and the timing.


SETTING: THE TEMPLE.

Events are taking place in the large Court of the Gentiles in the Temple at Jerusalem. For context, let's run with the footnotes at Mark 11 in the New Oxford Annotated Bible/NRSV:


"The Temple, the central religious and economic institution of the Jerusalem state, supported by the tithes and offerings of the people, had been rebuilt by the Judean ruling families upon return from exile in the sixth century BCE.



"Herod the Great had begun reconstruction of the Temple on a grand scale in 20 BCE, making it one of the wonders of the Roman imperial world and a center of Jewish pilgrimage."



"Jesus took forcible action against the sellers and buyers in the large Court of the Gentiles, the principal open public space in Jerusalem, where anyone -- including non-Israelites -- could go. Commerce, including money-money changing, was necessary in connection with sacrifices and offerings in the semi-monetarized economy.



MAPS.


Click here to see a simple site plan of Herod's temple.

Here's a link to a website with a few thumbnail photos of reconstructions of the temple area.



SOCIAL CONTEXT.


There's a fairly lively description of what the bustle of life might have been like in this courtyard at the time. It's found in the book Everyday Life in Bible Times (National Geographic Society, 1967). The following quote is part of a tour by a fictional Greek trader on seeing the world of Jesus:



" Each morning as the sun rises over the Mount of Olives, priests sacrifice a lamb, offer flour, wine, incense, and recite the shema. Levites intone hymns, trumpets sounds, and the faithful prostrate themselves.



"Because of the many private sacrifices, sellers of oxen, sheep, kids, and doves throng the esplanade. Here too are the money changers whom Jesus will scourge, sitting behind little tables with scales, exchanging foreign money into the half-shekel of silver which every male Jew over 20 must give annually to the Temple, in addition to a tenth of his crops...



"Now, as Passover approaches, the city throbs with life. Apollonius hears all languages, sees all kinds of dress. Merchants, beggars, cutpurses prosper. Pilgrims fill all inns and hostels attached to synagogues."



TIMING.

Mark's gospel and two others put the timing of the temple incident at Passover, between Jesus's entry to Jerusalem at Palm Sunday and the crucifixion. William Loader renders the scene a little sharper for us in his First Thoughts on the temple cleansing incident.


"To imagine anything like the original event, we need to appreciate the scene. It takes place in the outer court of the temple, a huge area, big enough to house a few football stadiums. It does not take place in the sanctuary itself. At Passover time there would have been crowds of people. People needed to change their money into the currency acceptable in the temple and needed to be able to buy birds and animals for sacrifices. The area was usually closely guarded by soldiers. A major commotion would immediately attract attention and arrests. Assuming the story has historical roots, Jesus' action must have been swift and limited, sufficient not to lead to his immediate arrest. It must have been a symbolic action. But what did it mean?"



INDEED -- WHAT WAS JESUS SO TICKED ABOUT?

Footnotes to the version of this story in John's gospel in the NOAB provide some good direction on this question: "Jesus' indignation was not toward those engaged in worship, but in those detracting from it."



WHAT THEN WAS THE TEMPLE REALLY SUPPOSED TO BE LIKE?

Back in Mark's gospel, Jesus is cited as saying, "Is it not written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations'? But you have turned it into a den of robbers."


'House of prayer' comes from Isaiah 56:7 and 'den of robbers' comes from Jeremiah 7:11.


Look up these verses from the prophets. The mood at Isaiah here is very hopeful and restorative. The underlying message at Jeremiah here seems to be a reminder that temples as earthly structures crumble away, and it's foolish or dangerous for people to put too much trust in these structures.


The risk Jesus takes here in causing a scene during the crush of Passover time seems to be related to the degree to which the temple does not resemble a house of prayer, or how far away it is in this moment from the spiritual kingdom he's primarily concerned about.


WHAT DOES SPIRITUAL KINGDOM MEAN?

For a good explanation of what's meant by Christ's spiritual kingdom, here's a paragraph from Canadian writer and scholar Northrop Frye. This is from Bible and Classical Myths, Chp. 21: the Language of Proclamation: Style and Rhythm in the Bible; The Gospel: Rewriting the Commandments:


" in Jesus' teaching, the fundamental reality of things was a division into his spiritual kingdom of heaven and the world of unending torment that man keeps constructing for himself. In his teaching, there are no realities except those of the spiritual kingdom and that which is without, which is outside the spiritual kingdom. But contingent existence as we know it in time is a mixture of the two things, and so there is the parable of the weeds and the tares: that this world is a very badly sown wheat field which is full of weeds [Matthew: 13: 24 - 30]. It's no use trying to dig out the weeds and leave the wheat in ordinary existence. That is why there is also an emphasis in the Gospels on the spiritual kingdom as immediate."



CLOSING THOUGHT.

Let's give this to William Loader, who closes his meditation on this topic with the following line: "Lent is... a time for the church to take a good look at itself."


NICE VISUALS.

Here are a couple of links to some visuals to help you get your head around this story. The first is a nice colour piece.


The next piece distils the story into its simplest components.



QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION


1. When in Jesus's life does this story take place according to Mark[looking for later; around Easter; after palm Sunday/before crucifixion]?



2. Where does it take place? [big courtyard around the temple in Jerusalem]



3. What kinds of things are going on in the courtyard at this time of year?



4. What's the main thing Jesus is so mad about [he'd like the temple to be more dedicated to worship]?



5. What does Jesus say the temple is supposed to be like? [house of prayer]



6. Describe in your own words what you think a house of prayer is like?



7. Is the church a house of prayer for you?



8. Are there ways the church sometimes isn't a house of prayer for you!?



9. Is the church the only place that can be a house of prayer?



10. Do you have a special place that you get away to where you find it easier to clear your head, or connect with God?



11. How do you get there?



12. What are some things in your everyday life that get in the way of staying connected with God?


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******WORKSHOPS******



ARTS WORKSHOP



ACTIVITY: KIDS WILL STIPPLE PAINT 'POSTCARDS FROM PARADISE,' AN IMAGE OF THEIR OWN PRIVATE GETAWAY OR HOUSE OF PRAYER.



INSTRUCTIONS:


Click here to see instructions and samples of stipple art for this lesson.


MATERIALS:

- heavier stock paper cut in large postcard size, acrylic paints, q-tips, painting shirts, plastic table cloths, paper towel, newspaper.


To see a picture of one young artist with his stipple art, click here.


IN REAL TIME WITH THE CHILDREN


1. Quickly review or recap the story with them before starting activity. Each week, see how much more detail each group of kids can supply on the story they've been studying.



2. Link or explain your activity to the current story.



3. Get stippling!




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DRAMA WORKSHOP



ACTIVITY: ENACT THE STORY AND PRETEND TO COVER IT AS A NEWS REPORTER/PHOTOGRAPHER. TAKE NOTES AND DIGITAL PICTURES. DRAFT REPORT AND BUILD FEATURE REPORT OR WEB ALBUM.




PREPARATION:


Review elements of this story. Kids might act out parts for an observer/reporter the following sequence of scenes:


1. general buying and selling in outdoor courtyard. need tables, animals, money.



2. jesus walks in on scene. could give him one or more travelling companions. talk among selves. reporter asks what's their impression of what’s going on here.



3. jesus & friends give explanation.



4. j. makes a move and knocks stuff off tables, tips over a chair or 2.



5. reporter asks what he thinks he's doing.



6. j says he thinks his house should be a house of prayer. but it's become a homebase for bandits.



7. muttering crowd.



8. j departs with friends.



9. reporter wraps up.



MATERIALS:


- costume box, tables and chairs.


For photo from our drama workshop, click here.


REAL TIME WITH THE CHILDREN


Ready. Quickly review or recap the story with them before starting activity.



Set. Link or explain your activity to the current story.



Go. Act up!



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KITCHEN


ACTIVITY: MAKE MINI CARROT MUFFINS AS 'SOUL FOOD' FOR VISITORS TO A HOUSE OF PRAYER.



INSTRUCTIONS:


1 1/2 c White sugar; 1 1/4 c Corn oil; 3 Eggs; 3 c flour; 2 ts baking powder; 1 1/2 ts Baking soda; 1/4 ts Salt; 2 ts Cinnamon; 2 c Grated carrots



Preheat oven to 345 F. Cream sugar and oil, add eggs one at a time, beat well after each. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Stir in carrots, pour into prepared pans and bake 20 -25 minutes or until center springs back when touched. This recipe is from Noah' Restaurant on Laurier Ave. [For quicker cooking time during Sunday school, try baking in mini muffin tins and cut baking time to 15 - 20 mins and watch carefully!]



CREAM CHEESE FROSTING


8 ounces/ 1/2 lb cream cheese, room temperature; 8 tablespoons (1 stick/1/4 lb) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature; 1 cup confectioners' sugar



REAL TIME WITH THE CHILDREN


Ready. Quickly review or recap the story with them before starting activity.



Set. Link or explain your activity to the current story.



Go. GOOD & GOOD FOR YOU!


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COMPUTER WORKSHOP


ACTIVITY: USE ACTIVITIES ON LIFE OF CHRIST CD TO REINFORCE ELEMENTS OF THIS STORY.

If a machine in your computer lab is hooked up to the internet and a printer, you could augment this lesson by an activity like generating an online crossword puzzle to reinforce key words in this text. For instance, click this link to create a free crossword puzzle.

IN REAL TIME WITH THE CHILDREN


1. Quickly review or recap the story with them before starting activity. Each week, see how much more detail each group of kids can supply on the story they've been studying.


2. Link or explain your activity to the current story.


3. Boot up!



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Turning the tables 2 - New activities


Art – house of prayer sculpture

Make a big batch of salt clay (basic batch = mix together 1 cup flour, 3/4 cup salt, 1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup cooking oil) – this will form the base of each child’s sculpture. Give each child a big ball of clay and a piece of heavy box cardboard. Have them flatten clay over the cardboard so they can stick things into it. Put out collections of random craft items, like silk flowers, buttons, craft sticks, twigs, shrub clippings, leaves, yarn, etc. Have the children create a 3d impression of what a special place of prayer looks like to them. (Or they can do a flat 2d picture from same objects).

Drama - role play/charades

Break into groups of 2. Have the teams brainstorm situations when they have needed to get away and touch base with God. Act out with or without sound each team’s scenario until rest of class guesses correctly.

Script writing

There’s so much drama in this story. Let the kids create and dramatize their own version of the scene. Here’s a scenario – see how your classes develops it!

Wherever there are lots of humans, there are …rats! Two rats observe the scene on the temple grounds. But rats want the crowd to stay, or it’s party over for them.

Points to ponder to script development –

Who are the supporting characters in this play?

Who or what would the crowd consist of?

Who would the rats consider the good guys? The bad guys? Would they be happy with Jesus busting up their party?

What could the rats do to ensure continuing chaos at the temple as opposed to a pensive place of prayer?


Kitchen – stove top granola

Wholesome food for the soul. Kids can measure and mix ingredients, adult to fry in fry pan. For small classes, could be made individual batches.

Ingredients:

3 cups oatmeal (rolled oats), not quick or instant
1/2 cup coarsely chopped almonds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup dried, shredded coconut, preferably unsweetened
1/2 tsp. cinnamon or coriander
1/4 cup light oil (sunflower, etc.)
1/3 cup maple syrup (or your favorite sweetener)
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup dried fruit of your choice (ie raisins, currants, cranberries)

Use a large, heavy skillet, at least 10 inches round with high sides or a wok..

Into the cold skillet place the oatmeal, nuts, sesame seeds, coconut, and cinnamon. Mix well.

Blend the oil, syrup, and vanilla together in a cup. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients in the skillet, stirring well to blend.

Turn the heat under the skillet to medium high. Toast the mixture, stirring frequently, until the oats and nuts are crispy and browned. The sesame seeds will start to "pop" and the maple syrup will smell like burnt sugar --- be careful not to let the mixture burn.

Toasting will take no more than five to seven minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the dried fruits. Let the granola rest in the skillet to cool.


Music

On his Folkden website, Roger McGuinn has the tune and lyrics to the song ‘Come and Go with me to that Land.’. It’s a simple tune that could be taught easily to children. Try changing the words a bit to ‘Come and go with me to that house, to that house, to that house of prayer.’ And while you’re tweaking song, what about a

Song writing workshop

Have the class brainstorm and write alternate verses to the song ‘Come and go with me to that land’ discussed above.

When finished either the Music or Songwriting workshop, talk to your worship team about having the kid perform their song during worship.


Computer- Jesus in Space or Let’s Talk.

Hmmm, let me see when I think about a place apart, what computer program comes to mind…Jesus in Space, of course. Not exactly mellow pensive places apart on this disk, but certainly gives a clear idea of the challenges of getting across the message of Jesus in alien territory.

And for those killjoys that would prefer a more direct approach to the story (myself included sometimes!), how about getting the kids to create an imaginary conversation on Let’s Talk.

First they have to brainstorm the types of characters in the story – Jesus, money changers, ordinary customers, women? Men? Kids? Crows? Reluctant participant? Gung ho? Fan of Jesus? Non-fan? Get the kids to pick 2 characters and share their finished product with the class.

For Background Notes as well as activities for Turning the tables 1, go to top of page.

All original text 2004 - 2014, LD McKenzie

For a brief site ed's bio, click here:

BIO

Components of these lesson sets may be used for non-profit educational purposes, citing this author and site.

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