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#95 - Prayer request regarding church desecration
by Robert Nguyen Cramer
This BibleTexts website administrator has very much enjoyed questions and insights that have been emailed to him ever since this site was launched in September of 1996. On this page I share with BibleTexts browsers a few of the questions, insights, and responses, so that we all can further learn from and with each other.
This was a "prayer request" that was addressed to all participants of an international, ecumenical Ordination of Women forum, in which I participate. You are welcome to respond prayerfully.
One of the country parishes in my area has 6 churches - 3 of which are isolated - the only building in sight, but each is the centre of a small, scattered community. One of these churches has been horribly desecrated, and the people are shattered.
St. Thomas' Carwoola has monthly services - usually with a congregation of around 20 - which is probably about 20% of the population. Sometime in the last fortnight, it was broken into. A window was smashed to gain entry - everything of religious significance was taken - cross, frontal, communion vessels, the lectern Bible, candlesticks - even the candle "snuffer". The hymn numbers on the board were taken down & replaced with a message (signature?) - 666.
But even worse - they violated the adjoining graveyard...
[The gruesome details that were in the original email have been excised from this webpages.]
They also removed the cross at the head of the grave and obliterated the inscription.
Because of its isolation, this could have happened any time since the last service - it was discovered by the faithful parishioner who keeps the lawns mowed. The priest feels violated himself - as do all the people of the area. Theft is bearable, but knowing that precious items - given for the glory of God will be used in satanic rituals is quite horrific. As for what happened to the grave.................. there are no words!
Somehow I have to care pastorally for all these people. On Tuesday evening we are having a service of "cleansing" - perhaps that will start the healing process.
Please pray for them all - and for me.
God bless the dear church, its present and deceased congregants, and the priest of whom you wrote. And God bless you, dear sister, Ruth. Whether or not we all respond to your email with an email, all of us on this Ordination of Women forum who have read your tragic description join you in prayer for you all, and for the perpetrators of the horrible acts.
In Christ we all are made new, each day, each moment. As Paul wrote,
Whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come. (2Co 5:17, NAB)
In that new creation,
What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?... Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:35,38,39, NAB)
This is a solid basis for forgiveness of 'anyone against whom we have a grievance,' which as we all know is a prerequisite for prayer (Mar 11:25). In such forgiveness, we can celebrate that we and our dear church family, as Godís new creations, are not subject to any power other than God. Rather than being victims, "We have complete victory through him who loved us" (Rom 8:37, TEV), just as Christ Jesus had complete victory over the evil of his persecutors through the Father's unceasing love. Evil is powerless in the presence of the omnipotence of God, who is Love -- and in the presence of His childrenís living representation of Godís love.
G.B. Caird described this victorious love in his wonderful commentary on Saint Luke (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1963, page 103-105), where he wrote about the "Law of Love" taught by Jesus in Luk 6:27-38*:
The men who were bidden to love their enemies were living in enemy-occupied territory, where resentment was natural and provocation frequent. They were not just to submit to aggression, but to rob it of its sting by voluntarily going beyond its demands. To those who believe in standing up for their individual or national rights this teaching has always seemed idealistic, if not actually immoral. But those who are concerned with the victory of the kingdom of God over the kingdom of Satan can see that it is the only realism. He who retaliates thinks that he is manfully resisting aggression; in fact, he is making an unconditional surrender to evil. Where before there was one under the control of evil, now there are two. Evil propagates by contagion. It can be contained and defeated only when hatred, insult, and injury are absorbed and neutralized by Love...
* (More of Dr. Cairdís explanation of Luk 6:27-38 can be read at http://bibletexts.com/terms/agape-c.htm. His commentary on Saint Luke is out of print, and very difficult to obtain.)
With much gratitude for our mutual fellowship in Christ,
Bob Nguyen Cramer
Copyright 1996-2002 Robert Nguyen Cramer