Sunday, November 09, 2008
Monk See, Monk Do-- The Disgrace of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
There are few places that better demonstrate both the diversity and the divided character of Christianity than the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. So divided are we, that in order for anything to go on in that Church which likely stands over the spot where Jesus was crucified, the keys to the front door have been held by a Muslim family for centuries, because of course the Christians who have staked out turf in this building couldn't decide who should have the keys! The most recent and visible evidence that the church is a 'many-splintered' thing is the fight that broke out yesterday in this historic church between Armenian and Greek Orthodox monks. Here is the link to the story.
Notice that Christians couldn't settle matters themselves so the Israeli riot police had to come in and break things up--- a total disgrace. I wish I could say that real Christians don't behave this way, but since I have seen it with my own eyes in my own church, sadly I am unable to say this. It is too easy to write this off as non-born again folks behaving badly.
In fact this sort of thing happens between equally sincere, equally devout Christians. This is the opposite of being the light of the world and the salt of the earth. This is bearing witness to the darkness of human fallenness and the stinking carcass of our sin.
It may be hoped that the parties involved in this disgrace will repent, and then apologize to each other. In the meantime the Jesus who died on the cross on this very spot shakes his head and says--- "I died for this? I died so my followers could behave like this?" I think not.
So lets review: 1) the Muslims opened and shut the doors of this church yesterday; 2) the Israeli Jewish police came and stopped a fracass in the foyer of this church; and what did the Christians do while Jews and Muslims were watching--- 3) THEY PUNCHED EACH OTHERS LIGHTS OUT!!!
Father forgive us, for we know not what we do, nor how terrible our witness to a watching world is.