Recently I found this in my morning email on a message from one of my favorite websites, Jewish World Review.
“On This Day [October 18] in 1009, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (Church of the Resurrection) in Jerusalem, was completely destroyed by the Fatimid caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, who hacks the Church’s foundations down to bedrock.
Those folks are persistent little buggers, aren’t they? My heavens, they have been at this for more than a millennium. They even outdo my wife when she wants a new pair of shoes. Notice the words, “completely destroyed” and “hacks the Church’s foundations down to bedrock.” And this news about the destruction of a Christian Church is on a Jewish website!
Christianity, called a cult at one time in the ancient world, was alive for a thousand years before the 1009 event and has lasted a thousand years since then. The secret that true Christians know that Moslems, atheists and others do not know is that the God of Christians, and incidentally Jews also, does not live in a place. Oh, don’t mistake me, there are places in our world such as Jerusalem and Rome and the corner of Alden and Patterson that are sacred to us, but it is not because God lives there.
These are places where we can meet God in the faces and handshakes and smiles of our friends and even strangers with whom we share our beliefs, needs, and desires. We meet to share our everyday experiences, our joys, and our sorrows. We meet with the young couple in our church that just became parents of a bouncing 6 pound 14 ounce baby boy and are so full of gratitude to God that their smiles and tears of happiness infect the whole congregation that was gathered that Wednesday evening, just one day after the baby was born. The sanctuary was filled with applause and laughter that rang through the hallways of the small church on the corner of Alden and Patterson.
But God does not live there. He lives in our hearts. He becomes manifest when we do something for someone who is in need. Sometimes it is just a word or smile. Sometimes it is a much needed warm embrace. Sometimes it is a covered dish or a meal for a shut-in. Sometimes it is help in finding work or an apartment so a person doesn’t have to live in his or her car one more night. I have seen and been a part of all of these in the past few weeks. Oh, I didn’t prepare the covered dish, but my wife did, and I drove the car. Doesn’t that count?
Furthermore, I am incensed at the treatment of my brothers and sisters by the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force lately. I am a veteran of the Army of the United States, and I feel as though I have been personally betrayed by a great institution.
I am incensed at the treatment of my brothers and sisters in the Middle East who have been killed, whose places of worship have been destroyed, many of which go much farther back than the date in 1009 that began this little epistle.
But I am assured that in the end, God will prevail. I am old and I probably will not see it in my lifetime, but that’s all right. Maybe it will happen in the lifetimes of my six grandchildren or my six (almost seven) great-grandchildren. Or maybe it will happen after that. But I know it will happen.
It hurts me to read of the destruction of a holy place, including the ancient Buddha statues in Afghanistan several years ago, by rowdy gangs of self-appointed Taliban thugs. Didn’t their parents and grandparents teach them to be decent people? Just to be decent?
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