[Temple Court]George Herbert: "The Church-porch"

Day 36: Evening


Let vain or busie thoughts have there no part:

Bring not thy plough, thy plots, thy pleasures thither.

Christ purg'd his temple; so must thou thy heart.

All worldly thoughts are but theeves met together

   To couzin thee. Look to thy actions well:

   For churches are either our heav'n or hell.

     Let vain or busy thoughts have no part [of your being in church]; do not bring your plough, your plots, your pleasures here. Christ purged His temple; so you must cleanse your heart. All worldly thoughts are but thieves met together to deceive you. Look to your actions well; for churches are either our salvation or damnation.

     Whatever your business worries, schemes and desires, leave them outside the door. They befriend us with their familiarity. They beguile and deceive us with their earthly importance. They intrigue and ensnare us in the competition and combat we take with us even into church. They hide and devalue our sacred nature, consecrated from creation. As Christ purged the temple, cleanse your self, your temple. These unspiritual thoughts steal away the benefit of your presence in the church. Leave the distractions outside with the money changers.

     How we act and how we are in church, in the presence of Eternity, speaks judgment about us, for us or against us. With this preview of the Last Judgment, we take the chance to restore ourselves to a better likeness. This opportunity decides our goals. Concentrate on the benefits that your presence gives you. It can begin a new understanding and a renewed relationship. The church is the judgment seat to either direction and divides the fork in the road. The opportunity is a decision, and the church is the stepping off place to eternity. It has always been your move.

Cleansing the Temple by El Greco, 1600

Note: "Christ purg'd his temple; so must thou thy heart." This is the Temple that George Herbert writes about.
© 1997 J. R. Arner

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