Monday, November 10, 2008

Punched Out By a Priest

Here's a Monday morning headline for you: "Monks Brawl at Christian Holy Site in Jerusalem." There, in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Armenian monks and Greek Orthodox monks came to blows and had to be separated and cuffed by Israeli riot police. I've been in a couple of Baptist business meetings that were nearly as bad.

Six different Christian groups are supposed to share possession and administration of this church, believed by many traditions to be the holiest site of the Christian faith, built over Golgotha and the tomb of Christ. But things have never gone smoothly. These Christians can't seem to agree on anything. Here's part of the story:

The feud is only one of a bewildering array of rivalries among churchmen in the Holy Sepulcher.

The Israeli government has long wanted to build a fire exit in the church, which regularly fills with thousands of pilgrims and has only one main door, but the sects cannot agree where the exit will be built.

A ladder placed on a ledge over the entrance sometime in the 19th century has remained there ever since because of a dispute over who has the authority to take it down.

More recently, a spat between Ethiopian and Coptic Christians is delaying badly needed renovations to a rooftop monastery that engineers say could collapse.


You can read the rest of the story here. What a odd place to get punched out by a priest. And what a shameful testimony to the cause of Christ. It may well be true that Jesus of Nazareth laid down His life in or near that very spot. And He died and lives for the cause and purpose of reconciliation, our coming together with God and with one another.

Any time in any place in any church, when we put turf and influence before grace and love, we have disgraced the Gospel and sent Christ back to His cross.

2 comments:

Friar Tuck said...

I was with you until the last sentence. I think the cross is sufficient once and for all.

Drew Hill said...

friar tuck- I too believe in the sufficiency of Christ's sacrifice. I was suggesting in a figurative way that when we ignore the meaning and message of the Gospel, we have rejected Christ and His cross. Thanks.