Monday, April 21, 2008

Holy Sepulcher! A Tussle in the Tomb Reveals Dissension, Idolatry

From the AP's Sarah El Deeb:

JERUSALEM - Dozens of Greek and Armenian priests and worshippers exchanged blows at one of Christianity's holiest shrines on Orthodox Palm Sunday, and used palm fronds to pummel police who tried to break up the brawl.

The fight came amid growing rivalry over religious rights at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, built over the site in Jerusalem where tradition says Jesus was buried and resurrected.

It erupted when Armenian clergy kicked out a Greek priest from their midst, pushed him to the ground and kicked him, according to witnesses.

When police intervened, some worshippers hit them with the palm fronds they were holding for the religious holiday. The Eastern Orthodox churches, including the Armenians and Greek Orthodox, follow a different calendar from Western Christians and celebrate Easter next Sunday.

Guys: It's JUST a tomb. Yes, it may be in fact THE tomb in which Christ was laid, but He's not there anymore. I'm not saying not to hold worship services there, but clearly these sectarian differences and strifes are becoming gods and idols to you that set themselves up against the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Simply put, this is not something to scuffle over.

Remember that what matters above all for the Christian is the Gospel. Both Armenians and Greeks (and yours truly) are undeserving sinners for whom Christ died. Our salvation is an act of mercy by a God who could have dealt justly with our sins by letting us die in them. But He saved us not because of anything we've done but because of His good pleasure to save a people for Himself from every tribe and tongue and people and nation on earth.

With that in mind, like the Samaritan woman to whom Jesus preached, we should go worship God in Spirit and in Truth, including and especially by declaring the Gospel message to others, bringing them to the feet of Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.:
19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

27 Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” 28 So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” 30 They went out of the town and were coming to him.

31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. 36 Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”

39 Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. [John 4:19-41]

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