Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Be the Church
This sign is at a community church in a New Jersey town, and as you can see, it has been vandalized. This is the second time in a year that a banner has been defaced at The Community Church of Mountain Lakes, the first featuring a rainbow and the words, "God is still speaking." We have been aware of the anti-Muslim sentiments which have surfaced in ugly ways in the US recently, with some conservative Christian leaders at the forefront. These stupid acts remind us that churches are not except from hatred either, and no doubt congregations with a more inclusive and justice-oriented message are easy targets.
Rather than take the vandalized banner down immediately the congregation is leaving it in place for a time, as the source of discussion. The gospel of Jesus Christ is Good News, but not for everyone. Jesus reminded his disciples that they must take up the cross to follow him, and it's fitting that the paint splashed across the banner is read, the colour of blood. In the end this promoted the congregation's message rather than obscuring it. We wouldn't have been aware that it existed without the vandalism. Well done!
I wonder how well we proclaim our Christian story as an alternative in our world of both secularism and religious extremism? Would you be comfortable with that banner on your church building? What do you think of the choice to leave it in place for a while?