Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Attack on Sanctuary

There is an ironic biblical parallel to the Colorado church shooting, which could be viewed as an attack on 'the body of Christ'. The arrest of Jesus (the sanctuary, and body, of all believers) was a violent attack in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 26:50-54). It says that men came with swords and clubs and seized Jesus. Then one who was with Jesus drew his sword struck one of the men and cut off his ear. Jesus responded to the man by saying, "Put your sword back in its place. For all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?" Luke's account also has Jesus heal the ear of the man struck.
Whether you decide to accept it or not the Gospel offers an alternative understanding of our bodies. They are not the sites of fortified preservation. They are the open sites of sacrificial offering. If the church cannot function with some level of vulnerability it can offer no new message to the play of powers around us.

. . .

One other interesting aspect of this event has emerged in my mind. Senior pastor Brady Boyd (hired only in August of this summer) made the comment "That's the reality of our world. I don't think any of us grew up in churches where that was a reality, but today it is.". This struck me as odd for some reason and I decided to do a little snooping. I found out that Boyd grew up in a small town in Louisiana that is a about a 2 hour drive from Jena (site of the recent racial tension and violence). It is hard for me to believe that Boyd had no cultural memory of the numerous attacks on black churches (that I found out still has an unfortunately high occurrence) in his part of the country. The issue for Boyd remained the fortification of his fold instead opening himself to connecting with the insight and pain of his black brothers and sisters in the American south. There is a looming ambivalence towards one's neighbour that lurks in this story.


Heidi the Hick said...

Being a basically emotional person, I'm horrified by the whole thing. That a place of worship can be this large and such an institution.

And that it was considered necessary to have armed guards at the gates. So symbolically and realistically wrong to me.

And that when the violence happens, the hero is the person who killed the killer and that God was in on it.

And after all that, to shrug it off. That's just the way it is nowadays. We don't like it, but that's the way it's got to be.

I commented on another friend's blog that I make it a point to NOT call another style of worship wrong but I am willing to step out for this case. Everything is wrong.

A church is not a fortress.

You closed your post with a note about ambivalence towards one's neighbours. Yes. It looks to me like this is just more "Us vs Them." I'm so saddened that a group of Christians expects to be attacked by THEM and are arming themselves against THEM. I think I'm rambling now at this point. I think I have a lot to discuss in sunday School in a couple of days...

hineini said...

Dave, I have to thank you for these posts on sanctuary. I feel a bit silly having never even thought of these subjects all to closely. I had not even imagined however that armed guards existed for churches, seems I am quite naive. Anyway, thanks again for giving me a whole lot more to think about. I really appreciated your insights here and I have to agree with much of what you said.

I have a question. Do you feel you are entitled as a pastor to ask your congregants to give up their safety? I'm not sure this is a fair question really but I'm curious on your take. I like the idea of sanctuary and abhore the idea of violence but, for me, part of the idea of sanctuary is that God will provide protection and I'm not seeing much of that anytime lately so I'm wondering if its time to rethink things....

Anyway, thanks again for the insight. Much love

Unknown said...

This is exactly what I was wrestling with for my sermon last week. We were snowed out so it gave me another week to think it over. I'll provide a link for it as well as some reflections after the fact. My last view sermons have become a little more prescription (or at least specific). I think this is good but certainly something to be more sensitive with.

Still waiting for your first guest post!! What are you writing these days? Copy and paste something from a paper.
Always good to hear from you brother.

hineini said...

I'm only writing bleak things these days, just finished up a class on the Shoah.

Unknown said...

Well that still meets my criteria but its up to you.